At the end of last year, I made the blunder you hear people make in movies all the time. The “Well, at least it can’t get any worse!” mistake. And then, a bus plows through the person’s bedroom as a plethora of mimes hop out and pretend to pull one another out by a fake rope. My 2009 was a bus full of creepy mimes wreaking havoc.
Let me count just some of the ways that 2009 kicked my ass.
- I found a lump the size of a golf ball growing on the back of my head, which thankfully turned out not to be serious, despite scaring about a decade off my life in the process.
- My division moved 1,100 miles away and I spent 8 months out of work.
- 2 days after my insurance ran out, I injured my knee jogging and couldn’t put any pressure on it for nearly two weeks. I had to walk around with a cane, and didn’t leave my apartment for a few days because of it. Had to give up all jogging and basketball for a number of months. When trying to resume running after a couple of months, I felt more pain in the knee and had to continue waiting. Can you say, “Old Man”?!
- Joblessness and injuries did nothing for the love life
However, despite that and then some, the final month of the year completely turned itself around and kicked enough ass to push me toward 2010 on a very positively-feeling note. And besides for my family, there’s one giant reason I got through 2009.
I shit you not. If I wasn’t on Twitter this year, there’s a good chance that not only would I still be looking for work, but mentally and physically, I’d be in a bad place. Twitter helped to transform all areas of my life. Twitter got me out of my apartment, when I couldn’t afford to literally leave my apartment. It kept me communicating with people, when I didn’t have an office to go to.
Twitter allowed me to continue being creative. Sure, often times it was bad puns that came to mind, but still, writing’s writing. As more and more people started following my tweets, responding, and retweeting, even though lots of my tweets were stupid and goofy, it still gave me a confidence that I didn’t have in a while. I knew that I could at least draw a reaction from people with my writing, whether it was a laugh or a groan. If I wanted to make people groan with a bad pun, I could make them groan. If I wanted to say something that people could maybe relate to, I could get a reaction there. This confidence in my “talents” has carried over into my new job.
Yeah, thanks to Twitter, I have a new job! For months, people on Twitter supported me and even helped look for work on my behalf. Not to go all kumbaya, but my Twitter friends have no idea how important they were. For the few snarky jabs at my expense about being out of work, I’d get ten times that offering help. I didn’t get that same multitude of support anywhere else.
I finally was able to resume my running. Seeing the drive, commitment, and results of my friends on Twitter with their running, it motivated me to create a workable “back to basics” running plan that started out extremely slow so as to not re-injure, and to continue building. It was frustrating running a 14 minute mile, but I knew I had to start that way. I decided to run every other day. I would start out running 1 mile every other day, for three runs. Then I’d add another mile for the next three runs. I’d continue adding a mile after every three runs, essentially adding a mile to every run each week. Today, I’m up to 8 mile runs every other day, at a 9:11 pace, and I’ve put in over 70 miles in December. Not bad for a guy who was relegated to a cane for a portion of the summer because he had no insurance and couldn’t afford to have a doctor look at his knee. Hell, before the injury, I never ran more than five miles at once!
It was because of Twitter that I was able to do this. I saw Twitter friends like Anne, Mike, Krista, Tracey, and Rochelle going on 9 mile runs and I wanted to be able to do the same. Just seeing their progress motivated me to challenge myself to put up or shut up. And it worked. On Thursday, I will be running a 5K. It’s only a touch over 3 miles, but it will be my first organized run, ever. And will feel good to end 2009 doing something I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to do again after my knee injury. And that’s run.
Twitter gets a bad reputation as a place where people write self-serving, mundane things that nobody should care about. Yeah. There’s lots of that. I’m to blame from time to time, even. But Twitter also kept me focused and gave me purpose. I couldn’t get an HR rep or hiring manager to listen to me for the longest time, but by crafting the right 140 characters, I could get a steady stream of feedback on a thought, question or remark. Believe me, when you’re used to the deafening sound of silence, that does wonders.
Faceless words from once-anonymous people turned into real life friendships. And to this day, I spend more time with people I met on Twitter than I do non-twitter folks, probably! Sometimes they make me think. Sometimes they make me laugh. And sometimes they drive me insane.
They really have become just like family, I guess!
Thanks for helping me through a rough year. Looking forward to going through 2010 with ya!