Tuesday, April 21, 2015

But What If I Don't?

Oh my gosh...I should go!
But why?
I shouldn't. 
But I can!
But why would I?
There is no time. 
But I'm so close. 
But why would I?
What would I say?
I'd be setting myself up for disappointment. 
Maybe even disaster. 

But what if I don't?

This was the internal conversation I had with myself several times last week. You see, I didn't write because I was at a communication conference (I know, the irony); the National Agri-Marketing Association annual conference, to be specific. 

As I took the stairs (and by stairs I mean elevator) to the 16th floor where my room for the week sat, I couldn't help but take in the Kansas City view. 

...And maybe sing Kansas City Lights in my head. 

Something caught my eye as a scanned the buildings, lights and old signs that dotted the historic stock town skyline. Only two blocks away, on the side of a building was a recognizable brand, and one of which I've been a card-carrying member since I got my license and could drive myself to the local Wooden Key. 

Wait. WHAT?! 
I'm this close to the Hallmark world headquarters? 
How did I miss that when I planned my week?

I went to my room and opened my laptop. Before my mind plotted anymore, I needed to confirm that this was fact and not fantasy. 

It was fact. 

All things NAMA continued throughout the week and each time I went to my room, or a breakout session didn't hold my attention, my mind drifted to the thought that I was just two blocks from the institution that held my "dream job" - writing for Hallmark

The familiar tug-o-war conversation clouded my thoughts each time. 

Oh my gosh...I should go!
But why?
I shouldn't. 
But I can!
But why would I?
There is no time. 
But I'm so close. 
But why would I?
What would I say?
I'd be setting myself up for disappointment. 
Maybe even disaster. 

But what if I don't?

I went back through the conference's jammed schedule and found one hour between sessions when I could sneak out and go to the Hallmark headquarters. 
To introduce myself. 
Give them a business card. 
Or two. 
Maybe tell a joke. 
At 3:00 I visited with a few industry colleagues and let them know I'd catch up with them closer to 4:00. I had an errand to run. I took the Heel-Toe Express out of the hotel and down the Kansas City sidewalks. 

This is not me. 
You and I both know I have my mother's cankles. 

Before I knew it, though maybe a bit further than the estimated two blocks, I was much closer to the beloved brand I'd seen in the sky days before. 


I walked the long corridor to an entrance that appeared to be official. You know, because I'm a very formal person. Truly, if I wasn't there on business I would have likely pecked on the first floor windows until noticed. 

A security guard, proudly still serving at the approximate age of 114, greeted me as soon as I entered the foyer. 

"Can I help you?" the guard asked. 
"Yes, this.....is a strange request. But for twenty years I've had the dream of writing for Hallmark. I'm in Kansas City this week on business and I saw your headquarters were so close. I just....Can I speak to someone in your Creative department?"
"The name of the person you'd like to speak with?"
"Oh, well, I don't have a specific name...." I was losing steam with gramps. 
Blank stare. I'm not sure he wasn't blind. 
"I have business cards....for my blog! Can I give you these and you see that they make it to someone in the Creative writing department?"
"I can't do that," he softly said, calmly crushing my dreams. 
"You can't do that? They are just business cards. Just so someone can find my blog. Nothing dangerous. No white powder......," I continued. Anthrax was not what I imagined my joke would be about, but in this point of the charade I was running out of ideas. 
"I cannot do that," he sternly replied.
Guess he was serious. I wondered briefly if I was something like the 187th street-wanderer he'd dealt with today?
"Here. Here is the internet code (it was a website: http://corporate.hallmark.com/company/hallmark-jobs) to find a job. That is all I can do. Go to the museum. If you haven't been there," he finished. 
I don't want to go to the museum. I don't even want a full time job!  I actually love my job! I just want someone to read Jean's Boots. My thoughts stayed internal. 
"Where is the museum?" I asked, deflated. 
"You passed it walking in. Just at the other end of the corridor."

I thanked him and left, putting my cards back in my shoulder bag. Dang it. 
I took the Heel-Toe Express back down the echoing corridor and entered the museum and gave it one last shot. 
The gal behind the desk to me to go across the corridor and speak with the security guard. I reveled that he had sent me her way, and she was just as confused as I. She reached in a drawer and gave me the exact same piece of paper with the Careers link on it. 
The communications geek in me was glad that they were at least consistent in the their message. 

I quickly walked through the amazing Hallmark Visitor's Center and tried to digest as quickly as possible all the history and heirlooms meticulously displayed in one place. 

Norma Rockwell's Kansas City Spirit
Even a Hereford made it into the history. 

My visit to Hallmark was brief and unsuccessful. A lot like I envisioned the "disaster" in my pre-planning thoughts, in fact. I didn't get "inside", I didn't get a free-lance gig and I didn't get my blog business cards to Hallmark Creative. 

But I did learn a lesson. 

Home almost a week now I've thought of that strange experience and wondered what got me to charge over there with such expectation and slight confidence

That question is easy to answer with another:

But what if I don't?

I knew that if I left Kansas City, within blocks of Hallmark, and never tried to promote my passion, I would have wondered for the rest of my life what might have been. The easy part happened: I got shot down. The hardest part would have been to wonder what if for the rest of my life. 

So what if you did the same?
What if you downsized...everything?
What if you told her how you really felt?
What if you asked for forgiveness? And, what if you extended it?
What if you moved home?
What if you went to the meeting?
What if you started taking care of yourself, now?
What if you apologized?
What if you stood up for yourself?
What if you wrote the letter?
What if you left the well paying job for one that made you happy?
What if you were made uncomfortable, for once?
What if you made the phone call?
What if you registered for the course?
What if you admitted to it?
What if you didn't care what they thought?
What if you actually pushed yourself?
What if you told someone?
What if you did it? That one thing.

But what if you don't?

Let my story of two business cards still on my kitchen table be a lesson. Your greatest pain in life could lie in wondering what might have happened had you compiled the courage. Don't let that happen. 

But don't just listen to me. Take it from this guy:

Side note: Anyone know anybody who works for Hallmark?

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