I was 9 years old when Google was first invented. I’d say it changed everything but that’d be an understatement.
For the past year, I’ve spent my days trying to understand and trick and master the beast that is Google. I now know what an algorithm is, what ORM means, how obvious your internet stalking really is, and why people in digital marketing never take lunch and always have Red Bull can towers on their desks.
I also know what a nerdgasm is.
I’ve spent, as a guestimation, 300 days driving to work in bumper-to-bumper traffic for up to 2 hours a day. I’ve sifted through all genres of music I could possibly find and have now resorted to listening to the Harry Potter soundtrack on repeat to distract myself from the pains of traffic.
Every day, depending on the temperament of Cape Townian weather, I drive into blasting view of Table Mountain and it still excites me to move into view of this natural wonder knowing that I actually sort of live here.
I’ve climbed that devil and I’ve sworn at it and it never ceases to be incredible. But for more reasons than one, it is time for change and it is time to move on.
Things I’ve learnt over the past 300 days:
You are not your profession
Some days I feel upset with myself that I didn’t become something like a Doctor or an Engineer or a Teacher. Because then I wouldn’t have to explain my job and why I do it. Everyone would be like, oh cool, a Doctor? Nice.
Every conversation kind of starts with “I work in digital marketing but it’s not like the marketing you think it’s more about Google stuff.” And then they think you’re really smart because you said work and Google in the same sentence.
But if everything was designed solely to serve its intelligence, things would be pretty bleak around here. So you have your degree and you have your job and that’s amazing. And you work hard and you enjoy it and you feel happy.
To me, though, there needs to be a definitive mid-ground here. A characteristic of your life or of yourself for you to escape to. Not because things are hard or because times are tough. But because somewhere between the emails and the conference calls and the continuous strategising, there needs to be a YOU.
A Lelanie who is an individual. Not the Lelanie who is the developer or the Lelanie who is the strategist or the Lelanie who is the analytics chick. There needs to be the Lelanie who is the girl who tells the dirty jokes. Or the Lelanie who’s learning to play the banjo. Because the Lelanie who is the analytics chick isn’t meant to define her. It’s meant to be a little part of the whole that is her as individual. You are more than your job. Don’t be Lelanie the analytics chick. Be Lelanie – the girl who gets invited to parties.
Your parents are not always right
Everyone keeps saying that you should listen to them and that they are wiser than you and that they have all the answers. But in the end they’re also just people. Who are sometimes also confused and angry at life and want you to not make the same mistakes they did.
If I listened to my parents a year ago, I’d never have started working in digital marketing. There wouldn’t have been that “memorable” adventure of having a tequila brand as a client and I’d also never have been given a brilliant analysis of how my ability to retain relationships is similar to the bounce rate of the Terms & Conditions page on a Japanese porn site.
This by no means constitutes being ungrateful for their lifelong efforts or disrespecting their opinions and advice. Those are always welcome. But I am the one who will essentially carry the consequences of my decisions. I am the one who needs to live with it.
Your mistakes do not define you
Man. I’ve done some stupid ass shit. I really am not always very smart. And I really am not always a good person. You may see me smiling in the corner, but deep down in my soul somewhere there is a bitch who ruins lives. But after a lot of wine and a lot of binge-writing, you reach a point where you are able look past your mistakes and move into a place where waking up and going to work is less a chore and more something you look forward to.
What we do is we try and build something nice around the black hole. We start from the bottom and we build our way up to something we can be proud of. And we never make those past mistakes again.
In the end
You work through the night and you swear at your computer a lot and you’ll probably start smoking just to deal.
Many digital marketers end up dreaming about conversion rates and landing page optimisation and these things tend to drive you to drunk Facebooking. It’s tough and it’s a 24-7 job and it will inevitably, at some point, crush your fragile spirit.
And it would’ve been totally worth it.