in reverb10

Good thing for Gaga

Think back to a moment in time that you’ll never forget. What comes to mind first? The moment you walked across the stage at graduation? The moment you landed your first client? Your wedding day? The first time you gathered friends together for an epic game of Mario Kart on the Nintendo 64?

Maybe that last one was a little too specific. But we all have moments that we’ll never forget – moments that help define who we are and who we want to be. Around here I like to call them “epiphany moments”.

2010 had too many of these moments to count. It wasn’t a defining moment, it was a defining year – a turning point and transition from who I was to who I am today.

Today Ali Edwards submitted a great prompt for #reverb10 – keeping the momentum and spark brighter than ever for a series of blog posts that already has me feeling like I’ve got my writing swagger back. She asks:

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

My “Alive” Moment

It would be easy for me to describe my wedding day – because this was, by far, the best day of my life in my 25 years. But there was another moment that made me feel more alive, more excited, more defeated, and more terrified all at once.

That was 9:30am on Thursday, January 28th, 2010. The day I got fired from my job.

As I describe in the post I wrote only a couple hours after getting the boot - that Thursday started like any other cold, snowy Thursday in Chicago. I woke up, checked my emails, sent out a few Tweets, took a shower, kissed my (then) fiance goodbye and headed into the office. On the drive in, I vividly remember flipping between Mike & Mike and Lady Gaga. It had become a ritual during my hour-long commute to do my “Gaga” thing and then attempt to reclaim my masculinity with Mike & Mike.

Before going in I stopped at Starbucks, grabbed a blueberry scone and a Gingerbread Latte (then listened to more Mike & Mike because clearly my masculinity needed some reclaiming).

To spare you the details, 30 minutes later I walked out of the office, with that same blueberry scone and Gingerbread Latte, carrying a box full of my stuff and two weeks severance pay.

Things change in the blink of an eye

It happened that fast. It was completely unexpected. It was something I never thought could happen to me. And it sucked.

And as I say to many when I talk about this situation, “An hour later I became an entrepreneur”.

Sure, I called my fiance, I called my mom, I cried and apologized and told them not to worry about me. But as soon as I got home, room-temperature Gingerbread Latte in hand, the first thing I did, before anything else, was open my laptop and start writing.

Like many other times I turned to this blog because it’s always been a place where I believe I can be my best – where I can turn negative thoughts and bad situations into moments that make me feel alive.

And that’s exactly how that day – that moment I’ll never forget made me feel – more alive than ever before. Since that day, I haven’t looked back.

Today I’m running my second business, and I love everything about my life. I have great partners, a wonderful wife, a career I only dreamed of this time last year. Today I’m eating scones and listening to Gaga feeling more alive than ever.

It goes back to what I said a couple days ago and what I always say about change. It’s inconvenient. You can’t (always) prepare for it. It’s not about controlling change, it’s about controlling your choices.

A moment doesn’t define you. You define the moment.

What was your defining moment in 2010?

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18 Comments

  1. Right there with you, almost to the T.

    Similar experience only a few months back, so it’s refreshing to see other people taking the reigns and turning a negative into opportunity. Writing has always been the outlet, though at times I’ve turned my back on it out of perceived necessity. Nothing like fresh perspective by force.

    I may not always have the answers or know exactly what my next step should be, but I’ll be damned if I allow external factors/pressures dictate my life.

    Great post Matt.

    • Well said once again, Brett. So often we let the moments and events in our lives dictate who we are, when really, it’s the other way around. Every event and moment is what YOU make of it – even the one’s that slap you in the face when you least expect it.

  2. Love it! I truly admire people who can make the most out of bad situations. I know firsthand that it’s not always easy to take a step back and try to find a silver lining in the clouds. But, if you just let the bad stuff defeat you, then you’re really doing yourself a disservice. You’ve done some great things this year Matt, and I’m so happy to hear you say you love your life right now. I hope that continues for a long time to come!

    • Thanks Sam – it’s been great to have your support and friendship over the past couple years – it’s been a roller-coaster for me and being as transparent as I have been here on the blog has really helped in getting to know myself, finding out what I’m capable of, and in knowing that I’m not alone in the ups and downs I’ve gone through. Cheers!

  3. I had a similar experience in June when I was fired from my job. It wasn’t as clear to me as it might have been for you but I know that it was the best thing that happened to me so far in my life. I could finally take control.

    • Believe me, it wasn’t immediately clear for me either – I knew what I wanted to do once I lost my job, but wants and needs don’t always line up. Fortunately I was able to find a lot of success very quickly and since taking that initial leap into entrepreneurship, I haven’t looked back.

  4. I love this post Matt. I also write when things start to go crazy in my life, and I always come to some sort epiphany in my writing. Writing makes us think slower, in a more organized way, and I find that truths always emerge.

    I would have to say my epiphany moment in 2010 was when I was in a job search slump and sitting on the couch with my big fit cat all day feeling all down about how hard it was, and then I locked eyes with my cat and thought “Oh my god if I don’t do something right now I’m going to become my cat.” That’s the moment when I decided no more sitting on my butt moping around, it was time to act!

    Thanks for sharing your inspiring story.

  5. Matt,
    Thank you for having inspired me two days ago to go and have a look at #reverb10, once again I find your blog to be, what I did not know I needed to read.
    Thank you :-)

  6. Matt, this is an awesome story!

    We’re about the same age, and at about the same point, I got married in July, and it was awesome!

    I can imagine that getting fired would be quite empowering, if, like you did, you approach it from the right angle. I recently left the last ‘job’ I’m ever going to have. I’m off to America on Wednesday, to bring my wife home, and start our life together.

    The day that I had my epiphany, which I’ll add to the Epiphany Moment next year, when I have some time to think about how to describe it, was as powerful as yours. My blog exploded the day I decided to make that happen. It was really exciting.

    Best of luck with everything you do.

    Namaste.

  7. Awesome story, Matt. I kind of wish they’d fire me so I don’t have to make the decision myself and blame myself if I flop! Hence, me blogging and reading blogs at work, lolol.

    Joe Dixon recommended I read this because he knows i hate my job and want out, lol. But what really struck me is that you listen to Gaga in the car. As do I. So I propose we start a special ultra-masculine Lady Gaga fan/fight club in which we do things like wrestle grizzly bears while listening to Gaga.