“But Did You Die?” Embracing Failure like Beyonce.

Image result for did you die meme“We’re going to lose our jobs, don’t freak out,” my coworker said, “You’re not going to die.” I was going to die. I was pretty damn sure of it. My heart was pounding and I could feel a heart attack coming on slowly. When my name was called, I headed down to the HR office where I sat with my then boss, who explained myself and two others were being laid off.  I don’t remember the rest, except today, would be my last day. My boss then asked, “Would you like to get your things now or later?” I told her I would go up, but she informed me she would have to escort me. You know, like a criminal. She escorted me to the door,  and then it was done. The first job I EVER HAD.  I cried hysterically  to my Dad, who told me. “This sucks, but you’re not going to die.” CLEARLY, I am, and also why do people keep saying that?

When I returned home, I removed my work clothes to get into mandatory depression sweatpants. As I looked in the mirror, I I was unrecognizable. I had gained nearly 40 pounds from working long hours and attending school at night. For what? No matter what anyone could have said, all I could hear was

“You are so not valuable to anyone. You can’t even keep a job, and good luck getting one looking like that. You have let everyone down, including yourself.”

As much as I preach positivity, in my darkest hours, I couldn’t find the strength to be kind to myself. I was angry.

During the first week of fun-employment, my friend approached me about a bootcamp challenge. “I cannot do that. It will be stupid!” I proclaimed. I acted angry, but really I was scared. Everyone would be better than me and I couldn’t face another failure. I called the trainer, who told me everything would be fine, but still…ugh. I almost threw up, and I had to modify like EVERYTHING. But at the end, my big ass kind of felt like a bad ass.  In a time when everything was going wrong, to actually complete something made me feel: accomplished. I followed my trainers program to the letter of the law, and within 21 days, had lost ten lbs.  I had lined up a few interviews and I was feeling myself.  I decided  I would control my destiny. I turned down multiple jobs, and I finally found a place I liked. I talked about myself like someone I loved, proved my value, and left the same day with a job and a 20k raise. I also negotiated an earlier start time to ensure I would be able to leave work on time to make bootcamp (#worklifebalance).

As time went on, I became more accomplished. I was putting myself out there, speaking at events and slowly dropping the pounds. The more weight I lost, the more confidence I gained. I was always trying new workouts that challenged me and it brought me to a revelation. I realized my confidence made me a great fit for sales.  I checked out a local recruiter, and sent him my oddly scattered resume. “Well, which company do you want to work for?” he asked kindly.  “The biggest and best job posting you have.” I replied.  His voice had the tone of someone telling a child that Santa Claus isn’t real. “This is a major fortune 500 organization, and your experience is a bit..well…all over the place.” I tried to not be discouraged, but I boldly told him that if he got me the interview, I would take the job.  I was a salesperson, I had decided it.

The interview process at the company was one of the hardest I’d ever been through. At points, I panicked. During a multi question test, I kept remember hearing my dad saying. “But you won’t die.” I’m pretty sure I blacked out for part of it, because to this day I don’t remember what that lady asked me.  Oddly enough, I had the job. It was my first time in a big company, but I finally felt like people were listening to my ideas and thoughts. My accomplishments in fitness began to seep into my subconscious, and I started showing my confidence. I talked to anyone that would listen.  Before I knew it I was a manager.

Around that time, that my little negative gremlin thoughts started creeping in. My fitness started slipping with the new stress and constant travel; I went into panic mode. My weight had crept up 20 lbs.  I called my trainer and said, “I think I need to enter a bodybuilding competition. And we need to make it work for while I’m traveling, because I have to do my job too.” I’d already lost weight, so why not try the real IMPOSSIBLE?  I made a plan, measured my food, worked out on the road, and controlled myself at happy hours.  About four weeks (and 12 business trips,  into my diet) I had my first presentation as a boss. It was also at the pinnacle of my near 100 lb weight loss.  There everyone was looking at me because suddenly I was the expert. “Ugh, I cannot do this!,” I thought. But really, again, I did it, it went awesome. Nobody died.

My bikini competition came in October. It wasn’t big, but the months of dieting were starting to get to me…and my anxiety. I looked at some of the girls and I was like “Holy shit, I’ve made a giant mistake.” I was the fat girl, and I called my mom to explain I could NOT do it. My mom replied, “No! You’re Beyonce! Just like…pretend you’re Beyonce!” Um ok. I slipped on my gold bikini, and remembered that I had every right to be there as the next girl. I had done the work, and a plastic trophy wouldn’t change that.  Plus, I was Beyonce. I took 4th, but after a giant brunch, I returned to work, continued to kill it and checked off another scary bucket list item where I didn’t croak.

Many people ask why I even compete. Losing weight was the hardest thing I’ve  done, and many times I failed.  I’ve failed in my career and often in fitness, but I’ve learned to exist comfortably with failure. As I proved in the above, life will always throw discomfort your way, but the more you embrace it, the easier it is to survive.  I know when crap hits the fan, I won’t be worried about how to get it together. Everyone from my family to my employees will count on me. I will continue to compete because it is so scary, but every time I push myself harder, I keep getting better.

I write this because many of you are struggling with failure. Whether it is weight gain, a job loss, or even a failed marriage; take this time to get comfortable with the pain, and know that YOU have the power to change it.  If you feel like you can’t do it, remember that a former fat girl pretending to be Beyonce placed in a bikini competition.  Do the bootcamp TODAY, lift the weights TODAY, apply for the job TODAY, because at the end of the day, did you die?

Love, C


I am Beyonce. ALWAYS.