Over the past 2+ months since DRUM closed and I’ve been focused on figuring out what’s next in my career, I’ve also taken several looks back. It’s kind of a necessary part of the process when you’re updating your resume, LinkedIn profile and portfolio, trying to make sure your past looks interesting and relevant to folks who may hold the keys to your future. But this objective review of my professional past has also brought up a lot of memories, philosophizing about how I got to where I am and, yeah, pretty much all the feels
The other night, while I was awake at 3:00 in the morning racking my brain for where I might have some long-form copy samples, I remembered the work I did as a department editor for WORKMAGAZINE many years ago, back in Richmond. Then I remembered this feature they did on me before I started that gig. Thinking about that moment in my life versus my current middle-of the-night panic in advance of another stressful day of job hunting, I had to wonder if I’d simply peaked early and the rest was destined to be downhill.
At the time this profile piece was published, I had just turned 33. I was running my own successful company, freeRadical, and leading the Richmond Ad Club as a second-term president. I was a master networker, tapped into agencies, production houses, local business and local government/politics (via a certain City department head who eventually became my husband). Life was a whirlwind of cocktails and connections, and it felt like the world was my oyster.
Looking back at this profile, the lede struck me: Getting laid off was probably the best thing that’s ever happened to Kristin Erwin. (Seeing my maiden name in print after all these years also struck me in a certain way!) It was true at the time. And I’ve repeated the sentiment many times since over the years. Hell, I even stood by it the second time I was laid off (from Razorfish in 2013). Being forced out of my comfort zone challenged me to do things I never would have considered and, as a result, I was able to create a life that — while not always easy or perfect — has been filled with much more professional, growth, success and true gratification than woe.
Fifteen years later, while this lay off feels a bit different — let’s face it, looking for a senior-level role and some semblance of the salary that came along with it during a pandemic is a total bitch — deep down, I believe that someday, when I look back at this time in my life, I will feel the same way. In some fashion that I can’t exactly see right now, the Universe did me a favor.
I’ve learned that, when you hit any kind of roadblock in life, there’s nothing to do except find the courage, strength and persistence to keep pushing with all your weight until you’ve moved it out of your way — or until, as sometimes does happen, luck swoops in with her rescue helicopter to magically pick you up and lift you over to the other side. Life is a force in motion and simply remaining stuck in a moment forever just isn’t an option.
So in the light of day, while reviewing the legitimacy of my 3:00 a.m. panicked notion of being a has-been, I concluded that my career path has followed a trajectory less like the COVID-19 graphs plotting cases in, say Italy, where there is a sharp peak and a sharp decline. Instead, my graph looks much more like the U.S. data, which shows a peak that has plateaued, remaining steadily high and ambling slightly up and down daily, with no sharp decline expected anytime soon. And I remembered that, like always, if I just keep pushing forward, I’ll get to the next peak.