Monday, July 21, 2014

What would you do over if you could?

Have you ever wanted badly to achieve something – and you were so close; this close – but you blew it?

I have. We all have. Here’s mine…

Remember Ananda Lewis? She was an MTV VJ back in the late 90s. (Google her; you’ll remember.) Here she is in case you need a refresher:
Before she was on MTV, she hosted a show called Teen Summit on BET (Black Entertainment Television). And when she left BET for greener pastures at MTV, I auditioned to become her replacement.

It was my senior year at the University of Michigan, and with mere months until I earned my bachelor’s degree in communications, I wanted nothing more than to line up a job in broadcasting. So I stalked hounded the higher-ups at BET for months. Months. I wrote letters. I mailed countless audition tapes. I even sent flip-flops with my photo on them with a caption that read I just want to get my foot in the door.

And guess what?

My persistence paid off. One day, I got a call from a Teen Summit producer who said that auditions were being held for Ananda’s spot. And I was invited.

My mom and I flew to BET studios in Washington D.C., and the next thing I knew, I was on a soundstage – so close to my then dream job I could taste it.

And then the teleprompter (which I had never read from before) went up…and I shut down.

I still don’t exactly know what happened. All I know is that words were rolling up the monitor faster than I could read them, I nervously began speaking gibberish adlibbing, and despite not being fully aware of anything at that point, I can tell you – with complete and utter certainty – that I felt every bead of perspiration as they slid down my back.

My golden chance was literally slipping through my fingers like sand at the beach, and I remember thinking that my career was FUBAR before it even really began.

Now, as I reflect on that day with the benefit of hindsight, I can say that it’s all good. A year after that horrendous debacle, I signed my first television contract to report the evening news for a CBS affiliate in Columbia, South Carolina (WLTX-TV). And, subsequently, I’m now a pro at reading teleprompter: I can read that sucker while I hang from a tight-rope and paint my toenails at the same time.

To be clear, I don't have any regrets. I, personally, feel that regret is a wasted emotion. I realize that changing even the tiniest detail of my past would alter the entire trajectory of my life's path...which would not make sitting here typing this -- or even having my family -- a sure thing.

Again, absolutely no regrets here.

I ended up making a respectable career in broadcasting, and while I don’t think about that ill-fated audition often, when I look back on the road I’ve traveled, it does cross my mind.  What if?

My husband Scott has experienced a similar scenario. The Detroit Lions get razzed all the time about not having made it to a Super Bowl yet. But in 1991 – Scott’s rookie year – the team was one game away from the Super Bowl. Meaning, had they won this particular play-off contest against the Washington Redskins, they would have been one of two teams in the 1992 Super Bowl.

Scott will be the first to tell you that he didn’t play his best that day – and the team as a whole didn’t either.

That said, several years later, Scott still wonders: What if the Lions had won? What if?

And so I ask you: What’s the one situation you would do over if you had a second chance?

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24 comments:

  1. I love learning the backstory of my favorite bloggers. I knew you were in news in the past, but never knew for how long! I don't look back either (often) like you, but I do wish I would have taken a job years ago with NBC during the Salt Lake Olympics. I often wonder where my career would have been.

    Totally random - but do you ever think about going back full time? I'm grappling with this decision now.Great post btw...I love how I always find something different here!

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    1. Top of the mornin' to ya, Kristen...

      "Do you ever think about going back full time?"

      Nope. Not. At. All. Never.

      I think my decision was helped along by the fact that after leaving news, I dabbled in politics -- I wasn't your garden variety politician, however, I was appointed to my position because the official I was working under desperately needed media savvy. And that field is just as demanding as hardcore news -- if not more, particularly during an election year, but I digress.

      Thanks for your compliments, Kristen. I appreciate it.

      xo

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  2. I have some many stories of "what if". It's actually too hard to pin down one. (I think everyone does).
    But what I have realized is everything happens for a reason, and I am where I am supposed to be. Maybe if you were a big time TV show host, I would have never found your blog. :)

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    1. LOL Stacie! You are totally right that everything happens for a reason...and as I stated above, make no mistake, I have no regrets.

      I stand firm in my conviction that we are exactly where we need to be.

      And, yes, I probably wouldn't have my husband or babies -- which includes this blog. (This blog is my third kid. lol)

      Oh, Stacie. LOVE your comments...

      Enjoy your day!

      xo

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  3. I think it's too early in the morning for me, Courtney, cause nothing is popping into my melon! I have had this convo with the hubs before as he had some schools wanting him to come play football for them and he turned them all down. Are choices (or lack of) Lead our paths to cross and I wouldn't want it any other way!

    I love hearing about your experience and just adore the flipflop idea!!

    xxo

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    1. I mean "our choices". Still waking up!

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    2. I got, ya, Susie! I totally understand. ;-)

      "Our choices (or lack of) Lead our paths to cross and I wouldn't want it any other way!"

      THIS...times a million.

      Like I said, no regrets, really. I mean that. Although I totally concede to *sometimes* wondering what the outcome would have looked like. Again, not that I would have wanted to *keep*/*live* that particular outcome.

      I LOVE life right now, and would choose this life in a New York minute!

      I so appreciate your weighing in, Susie! And not because we are generally in lock-step with our thoughts! ;-)

      Love ya like a sis...

      xo

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  4. I had to sit and think about this...I know my husband and I have talked about this before...so I would have to say I would have gone to a smaller school here in Cleveland to play volleyball. I ended up at Ohio State (which is where I graduated from...and I LOVED my time there) but I would love to know how life would have been different had I gone to school on a Volleyball Scholarship.

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    1. First, Carissa, our bloggy friendship is proof positive that a Buckeye and a Wolverine can indeed coexist in harmony. lol

      Second, I'm with you: It's not that I want to live the other outcome. I just concede to being mildly curious as to how it would have all shaken out; that's all.

      But, then, isn't that quite natural in this game called life?

      How do you feel???? Twins!!! Ahhhhh. Major {hugs} and warm thoughts of positive energy your way!!!

      xo

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  5. Oiy. This is a loaded question...

    1) I would have insisted my parents drive two hours so that I could interview for a full ride scholarship in person instead of over the phone. *sigh* I was always trying to not inconvenience my parents, but I should have pushed for that one. I did not get it, surprise. :P

    2) I would have stayed up all night to finish the application for another full ride scholarship... instead of listening to my mother and going to bed. My boyfriend at the time got it instead... and although I was happy for him, he needed it just as much as I did... god it would have made life so much more simpler.

    3) I would have been more aggressive in college about trying to figure out what worked for me, instead of letting professors shunt me off. Never feeling like you're worthy enough to help sucks, let me tell you.

    4) I would have studied abroad. I desperately wanted to do this, but couldn't afford it... I should have just taken out extra loans and done it, because who knows when I'll get the opportunity now? (I still dream about taking my kids and living overseas in different countries for a few months at a time.)

    The common thread here is standing up for myself and believing that I'm important/worthy enough to receive/ask for something. I'm working on it!

    Like you say... if anything was different, I wouldn't be sitting here typing this right now (probably). So who knows... maybe I appreciate my opportunities now more, since I realize what I missed earlier in life. :)

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    1. Oh, Dakota. Your response is deep...DEEP, my friend...

      If I touched on everything you mentioned above -- I swear I'd be trying this reply until Kennedy's first middle-of-the-night feeding, so I'll just spare you the time and cut to the chase by saying yes...yes...YES!!!

      "...standing up for myself and believing that I'm important/worthy enough to receive/ask for something."

      I've been there. I know of what you speak. I know motherhood has done wonders for me though, I will stand up to anyone now.

      Thank you for commenting.

      xo

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  6. I wonder how differently life would have been if my husband and I got married while I was still in college. We dated long distance for four years, but my husband was always willing to move so that we could get married while I was still in school. However, I wanted to graduate and live on my own for a year before getting married (which is how it happened). However, if I knew married life would be this much fun I probably would have gotten married while still in college. We have been together since we were 18 and 20 and married for 10 years, so I don't have any regrets :)

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    1. Hi, Sonya! I totally understand your comment, and get why you wonder...

      My mom and dad married while they were in college, but Scott and I didn't even meet each other until we were 27 and 35 respectively...but we did do long distance for nearly three years, so I feel you with regard to that...

      Great comment! Thank you for sharing...

      xo

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  7. I remember Ananda very well!
    It's interesting that it happened, but obviously still led you to where you were meant to go.
    It's a deep thinking question and I wonder about it. I've had to choose between two men once, and I chose Cassidy obviously. And I've never regretted that one.
    I wish I hadn't stayed at a corporate job for four years. I wish I had started what I do now then. However, I think I was still too scared/not ready.

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    1. Oh, Tamara, you so hit the nail on the head with this little sentence right here:

      "I think I was still too scared/not ready."

      Ding, ding, ding!

      I've wanted to write -- just, plain ol write -- for years. I've known ever since I was a little girl that writing was my calling. Sometime in high school I discovered that I also liked public speaking, and I learned that it was also relatively easy for me, so I pursued that...in hindsight, partly because I have long been afraid to break off and pursue writing seriously, which I finally did in 2009.

      But, God, I look back and often ask myself: "Why in the hell did it take you so long, Courtney????"

      Thank you so much for sharing.

      xo

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  8. I know I have "what if" I have finished college and where would I be today? I think I'm doing ok now without getting my degree but I may go back to get a degree in marketing since blogging has now turned into a career for me.

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    1. Continuing education: Ah, yes, Louida -- that has to be one of the most frequent scenarios that inspires a case of the 'ol "what ifs". The good news, though, is that this chapter is far from over for you! Many women are deciding to pursue their education beyond their 20s, 30s, and 40s...you're not at all alone there...

      Thank you for commenting!

      xo

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  9. If I had to do anything over again I would have made better financial decisions in my early twenties . Nice share :)

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    1. Oh my goodness, Mari!!! I can't believe no one else referenced finances! Yes...yes...YES.

      Been there, done that. I was fortunate that I made very good money during the last stop of my work-outside-of-the-home career-- and that position afforded me the opportunity to pay off my credit card -- which I did some damage to in my 20s. But, man, it would have been nice NOT to have incurred that debt at all in the first place!

      Thank you, Mari!

      xo

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  10. Hi Courtney - I love reading about your past and how you got to where you are today! Like you, I have no regrets. None. Zero. Zilch. Life isn't always perfect, but what is meant to be... will be. Thank you for sharing. Hugs, Holly

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    1. Good morning, Friend!

      "What is meant to be...will be."

      Couldn't have said it better myself. This...times a gazillion.

      Have a SUPER day!

      xo

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  11. I was on Jeopardy!--my dream--several years ago. I had been ill the previous year and had been on bed rest for months. This meant that I had to leave my job, so I was BROKE and really needed the prize money, but also meant that I had loads of time to study and memorize lists to prepare. The initial test was cake; I murdered it. The next audition also went really well, and I won the practice game I played against two other prospective contestants. When I got the call inviting me to be on the show, I was stoked beyond belief! I also felt pretty confident that I could do it. Unfortunately, a series of things totally threw me off my game. I hadn't figured on being at the third lectern, and I had trouble seeing the clue board. Alex also asked me a question that was NOT on my info card and that really got me flustered. If I learned anything from the experience, it was that I do NOT belong on television, especially live TV! I lost the game, but won a great trip to Vegas and will always have the memory and bragging rights of having been on the show. But what I wouldn't give for a do-over...! :)

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    1. Wow, Heather!!! Can I just tell you that your comment was -- hands down -- one of the greatest comments I have ever read.

      Ever.

      Thank you so much for sharing this awesome story...

      First of all, MAJOR congrats for making it on Jeopardy! You DO know how big a deal this makes you...right? My Grandmother (God rest her soul) was a HUGE fan of the show,and what I wouldn't give to tell her that one of my readers made it on!!! (The whole six degrees of separation thing, lol...)

      Wow...just...wow. I am going to read your comment to Scott right now...

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Heather! Really.

      xo

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