On disappointment and my ‘come to Jesus’ with gratitude.

Picture this: It is June 24th, three days after it was announced to me and a room full of people, that my dream food job in WA wouldn’t be realized. The ocean of tears have dried up as I write this 30,000 feet over the Pacific, and their parting gift was a nasty head cold.

I am almost sure that it’s my bodies way of saying, “Enough”.

Heartbroken doesn’t begin to explain how I felt a few days ago. Hurt, confused…now that’s a start. I thought I had aced it. I pushed my  introverted self so far, and stretched my energy so thin. I hoped that no one would see that towards the end, I was hanging by a thread. I wrote under pressure: during plane rides, on buses, and in the middle of the night to meet the writing challenge deadlines while trying my hardest to maintain my own standards. Nothing rushed, and nothing cheap. And I can at least leave saying that I stand behind my work 100 percent.

I hold no hard feelings towards the powers that be; their decision is not my problem, and entirely their loss. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

This period, after the aftershock has settled, is when the courage must kick in. Because I’ve been cut to the quick. That sharp and uncomfortable feeling has set up residency in my heart; the only way I can move on is to realize the good that has come of this. Because there is so much good hidden in plain sight, begging to be realized and utilized for bigger and better things.

But I’ll be honest, it is still taking some time for me to really believe that last sentence; that being runner up was an accomplishment. I had it in my head that this was a serious food and wine job.

Because I didn’t apply on a whim, I applied to win. Just like how I applied to one culinary school, because it was arguably the best. Or how I usually apply to one job at a time, because I commit myself (often to a fault). So I put my heart, soul and countless hours into competing. I fought with Patrick more than I’d like to admit; the strain that I let this contest put on my most significant relationship is still a great source of embarrassment and shame for me.

But ungratefulness is a terrible color on me, on anyone. And what changed my tune on a dime was seeing it worn on someone else. I couldn’t help but think how ugly it sounded. “Here you are”, I thought, “on this trip of a lifetime, gratis, and you’re eating sour grapes when you could be drinking some fine Aussie wine instead”. And then I realized I was being a total hypocrite, silently sneaking grapes from the same rotten bunch, just when no one was looking.

That was my “come to jesus” (which has no religious affiliation for me, it means a head on collision with reality). To see entitlement in its element, put me back in the right state of mind, which was that of gratitude. Because being thankful for what you already have and not resentful of what could have been isn’t always easy. It is actually really f****g hard sometimes. Especially when coming so close to the finish line. But when I finally got there, I found it impossible to be angry or unhappy.

It all comes down to choice. We can choose to see the beauty in the bumblebee or the stinger. It is all too easy for me to be stung, and I happen to bruise like a peach. They say negativity is a powerful human instinct, dating back to when we all had to be paranoid and fight for survival every day. I have a gut feeling that my natural instincts must be very, very strong.

So when I get dark, this is what snaps me out of it:

Right before I moved to Sydney, I told everyone my only job would be to carry Patrick’s bags for him. By month one, I had no plans for the future, only doubts. I was enjoying Australia, yet still felt deeply unfulfilled. In other words, there was definitely no marrow-sucking of life going on.

Then I, this sad old lump of a person, decided to apply for this far away competition because what was left of my depressed instincts told me I had to. I spent countless hours learning how to edit a video, write and rewrite a script god only knows how many times, and performed it. Then I was selected as one of 25 people who would go on to spend two weeks hustling themselves, trying to get anyone and everyone to support them. I tweeted Ellen in the hope of a damned retweet. For god sakes, Ellen!

I obsessed, yes. I absolutely over analyzed. It was also one of the most creative periods I’ve had in a very, very long time. I was a girl alive, and on fire. Marrow was being sucked down so hard and fast that life didn’t see it coming. Instead of resorting to loud stunts that are inherently not me, I played the strongest card I had, being in the profession. I developed a vision for how I would elevate the profile of food and wine in the state. I would write them a cookbook, and it would be my first step of many to becoming the food and lifestyle brand I know I can be. I nourished relationships from the mentors of my past, and cultivated new mentors that are now apart of my future.

Ellen never retweeted me, but that didn’t matter. I had the most talented people I know and respect in the industry singing my praises. It was personal, and meant so much more than a retweet ever could. And it all paid off. I was worthy of moving on to the final phase.

And to think that four months ago, I thought I was only worthy enough to carry my boyfriend’s bags. 

The dark in me could say that I ‘wasted’ three months of my Australian vacation trying to win this. That is an all too easy response that is rooted in disappointment and feelings of rejection; it isn’t a valid argument and I know it.

It is very clear to me that the light far outweighs the dark. I am so grateful for Tourism Australia, the powers that be, and the country of Australia for this opportunity. I had the trip of my life, and I have come back transformed.

This is my becoming; just you wait and see.


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