Have you ever written "The Letter?" The one that, at the time, seems perfectly needed, perfectly justified yet years later the memory of writing it makes you cringe? I'm sure loads of you have written The Letter to a boyfriend or girlfriend, but what about to your boss? I wrote one years and years ago and still cringe at the memory.
Here's what prompts writing it:
1. You're rockin' your job
2. You're getting a lot of great projects
3. You're getting a lot of great compliments
4. You love what you're doing and know you are good at it
All that sounds great, right? Well, then there's this last one:
5. You've been snubbed for something you feel you deserve
Thus, The Letter.
I was at my first job right out of school. I had the blessed fortune to work for a couple who owned a printing business and who made it a high priority to teach me everything about their business. Essentially my entire career in printing, production and creative management is owed to them.
All I can remember about The Letter is I was clearly mad. Mad that I wasn't included on some trip to some meeting that I felt I deserved. I worked hard preparing for it, I contributed to the presentation at a senior level and really felt like I made a difference to the project. Yet, I was not asked to attend and man, that pissed me off.
So all my anger and resentment went down on paper (pen and paper back then). I thank the Lord that I don't still have a copy of it and I have no memory of what I wrote. What I DO remember is the look on my boss' face after he read it. TO THIS DAY, I shudder when I think about the immaturity of my actions. If I could take one single thing back in my 20-year career, this letter would be it.
When I gave The Letter to my boss, he in turn gave me the silent treatment for a few weeks. That's it. No discussion, no rebuttal, no response. It was the worst few weeks I've ever had at work. And to this day, I feel like a shit. An ungrateful shit. I learned so, so much in that first job. I had incredible opportunities. And that job essentially launched my entire career.
So just a word of caution if you're ever feeling the need to get all your angst down on paper (on email). Don't. Big Capital D. Don't.
What you can do -- in this temporary moment of despair -- is remind yourself of what's great. How much you are learning. How amazing this creative industry is. That you actually have a job. And again, that you HAVE A JOB. That you are really good at what you do. That people are noticing. Think of these things, take a breath and step away from the keyboard.
20 years later, that, you won't regret.