Title Fatigue

I’m not a social media guru. I’m also not a ninja or Jedi. These not-so-creative liberties attached to my area of expertise are not cute. In fact, I find them patronizing and offensive.

My industry has been going through an identity crisis since its inception. There’s little consistency across agencies and clients on how to best describe the depth of each social channel, let alone how we title the people who manage them.

Social media will always be evolving — much like how the universe is expanding. My experience is rooted in the agency world, and in under a decade, my title has morphed from PR hierarchical nomenclature to newer, looser titles with overt ties to digital.

My current title reads something like, “Vice President, Social Strategy and Content Marketing,” and the clarification after the formal title was my attempt at claiming stake to the area of social media about which I’m most passionate. I see social strategy as level agnostic. Even as a Vice President, I wouldn’t scoff at being referred to more generally as a social media strategist to someone who doesn’t know or care about agency hierarchy (read: most people).

At my core, I identify as a writer, and over time, that identity has expanded. Aligning myself with the strategist moniker embraces and encompasses my passion for writing, while also compensating for my consumer curiosity, analytical drive, and overall thirst to communicate creatively.

I could easily whittle off a top-10 list of qualities that negate a person’s claims to social media czardom (a phrase that truly makes me wince whenever I see it), but I’d rather make the case that we shift how we think about job titles. Roles should be shaped by an agile vision of how a person or particular area can grow — no limits to inflate impact or truncate potential. Digital teams should be built to flourish in tandem with an always-changing industry.

Untitled design (6)

Love, Marriage and Politics

Working in public relations, especially on the digital end of the spectrum, I’m no stranger to keeping my politics private. Most people who know my husband and me, know that we have wildly opposing political views, and wonder how in the world we make our marriage work.

Early on in our relationship, I dedicated lots of time to polishing Adam’s rough edges. Don’t get me wrong; he’s brilliant. Really and truly. But he’s strong-willed. Deciding to get married on the heels of an election year, I never thought I’d have so many, “Shit Republicans Say” reactions to his political commentary.

Love is funny, though. I’ve kept him up until the wee hours of the morning following debates to extend my soapbox, and he’s engaged me, exhausting his talking points in hopes of tuckering me out. He’s not often successful.

We make it work for two reasons. The first, and perhaps most important is that at the foundation of our marriage is a mutual respect. We respect each other’s opinions, because they’re not sound bites. Second, and still important, is that our political positioning, though inherently opposite, overlaps and aligns on issues that have the potential to directly impact us as a unit.

I sometimes wonder if our marriage is actually stronger because our views differ. Either way, it certainly keeps conversations interesting.

Let Me Be Clear: I’m Not Sorry

I take my work seriously, and to some extent, personally. I think anyone who crushes her parents’ dreams of her being a power lawyer in favor of working as a penniless publicist in the publishing industry has to hold on tightly to what pays her bills. Years – but not many – later, I’ve left publishing and have situated myself more securely in the world of social media strategy.

From where I sit now, I’m quite comfortable. But getting here? The phrase “whoa nelly” sums it up squarely. I’ve been called “aggressive,” “domineering,” and “challenging” – and only one of which was ever said to my face.

And, at the end of the day, I want to be clear: I’m not sorry.

As a woman – and a young one at that – in business, the world we live in labels me as an opportunistic millennial (a marketing buzzword that I wish would just putter out already), and as such am pitted against allegedly seasoned — read: old and male — professionals who can roughly talk at the same relative shtick as me. And for that, I should apologize?

I think not.

My motivation for writing this post was hardly a reaction to an experience. In fact, my agency (and boss, team, etc.) are fantastic, and have almost always recognized and rewarded my demonstrated experience above all else.

Writing this post was instead a means to vent against a pathetically patronizing wave of articles about women that have popped up as of late.

It started with a wedding announcement shared on Facebook. Using something as coveted as a New York Times wedding announcement as a platform for exploiting rhetoric about a woman in academia accepting her job as a one-way ticket to becoming a “Mrs.” was so disappointing.

Follow that with unsurprising Jezebel coverage on the percentage of women in tech who have been told they’re too aggressive, and well, there you have it — a real recipe for rage.

After two days in Nashville for a work retreat, I noticed that too many people were starting sentences with conditional statements about the quality of their contribution to a discussion, and most troubling to me was that many of them — especially the women — were starting their phrases with “I’m sorry.”

In my mind I was screaming, “FOR WHAT!?”

I will never be sorry for adding my two cents and for doing my job to the best of my ability, and hope that in 2016 and beyond, we can work together, gender aside, to create a stronger culture of confidence in the workplace. I’d like to think that doing so will help foster those small wins that make big things possible.

And So It Goes

New Years celebrations, much like birthdays, are inevitable, provided you’re alive. If my Bubby Cyrille were still living, she’d insist that I qualify that statement with “G-d willing.”

More major milestones were crammed into 2015 than I would have ever thought possible – including three weddings in my immediate family, two in my extended family, a dog adoption, and a promotion (my sister-in-law calls me Madame Vice President now…) – and so 2016 promises to be quieter, if nothing else.

If my introductory cynicism wasn’t clear enough, let me attempt to reposition myself as a realist instead of a skeptic. Instead of year-long resolutions that might fall through the cracks, I’m going to resolve to make my new year revolve around small wins — at work, the gym, home, etc. I’m optimistic that as we approach 2017, I’ll be a healthier and happier version of myself, but that won’t happen by setting unrealistic expectations. Small wins will allow me to focus on the more immediate and attainable, and will ultimately (hopefully) help me reach more sustainable, long-lasting results across the board.

 

Coupling in the Kitchen

Big city living comes with many little conveniences – many of which are just a click or tap away. After years of sending out laundry and ordering groceries via delivery – I’m a loyal Instacart user – I’m actually convinced that there’s nothing that can fully alleviate the typical moans and groans of living in New York.

I don’t even really live in the city proper. Just outside of Manhattan, Adam and I have nestled comfortably into the Queens County neighborhood of Astoria.

I’ve tested the boundaries of my budget over the years as I’ve developed adult independence. I’ve reasoned away from the lack of logic behind thrice weekly orders from Seamless, and especially since partnering up with Adam, I’ve rekindled my love for cooking.

No matter where I’ve lived, my kitchen has always served as the heart of the apartment. And so when Adam and I moved in together, our kitchen became the place where we were able to find time to chat and unwind. The bedroom is for sleeping, the living room is for binge watching Netflix (smart TV=best purchase EVER) and the kitchen – well, the kitchen is for congregating.

We recently subscribed to Blue Apron and Plated, and it’s really been our way of doing something together – sometimes in a “lord, give me the strength” kind of way – and learning how to communicate through challenges – chopping fennel is harder than it looks!

When I married Adam, I promised him that we’d do adventurous things, but that we’d also define adventure together. I like to think that our culinary adventures keep us on our toes throughout the week, priming us for the real adventure that is simply living – read: surviving – life in New York

brie grilled cheese

Weekends Away

I’ve lived in New York for over five years, and since being here, I’ve shlepped to more places by car and train than I did in my twenty-plus years as a Michigander. It’s amazing how refreshing and relaxing just two or three days away can be.

Over the summer, we try to make it a habit to escape the city on the weekend. During the week it’s hard to power down. I sleep with my devices less than an arm’s reach away and Adam keeps both of his iPhones perched on the windowsill directly next to him. Our lives are rarely free from digital distraction.

But then there was this past weekend.

We made the trek to Rhode Island with two good friends, and not only did we power down (save for a few Instagram posts and Swarm check-ins), we let loose. And I’ll be honest — it felt great.

I’m a very WYSIWYG type of person – I make no apology for my pushy, type-A personality. It’s simply how I’m wired. But this weekend was different.

I was a mirage of myself, in the best possible way.

Friday was a late night, made even later by a round of drinks. Saturday was a long day spent exploring Stonington. And Sunday, our last day, was the perfect blend of beach and brunch, before we hit the road for our return journey to New York.

This weekend wasn’t entirely exciting. That’s not it at all. It was the company we had – family and friends – that made me appreciate the life Adam and I have built together, the characters we’ve carved out for ourselves, and the moments that make us stop in our tracks with anticipation of what’s next.

This weekend away, with friends and no plans to guide us, I was a mirage of myself, in the best possible way.

You Can Choose Your Friends

Now more than ever, I’m reminded of a saying that my mom would repeat when my siblings and I would argue. “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” This was often thrown around with complements like, “blood is thicker than water,” and so on, but never has it felt more applicable than now.

I often write about my family, and our relative (pun intended) dysfunction (almost always paternal). My wedding was met with the coldness of first cousins not coming for an array of excuses, and uncles and aunts barely staying through dinner, all without congratulating us on our nuptials. Nearly immune to the sting of familial nonsense, I found it funnier than I did rude.

It’s not that I don’t like my family. I’ve worked to develop relationships with some cousins, and I genuinely enjoy getting to know them. But then there’s this element in the generation above that I’ll never begin to understand.

I’ve always been pegged as the outspoken one – and I suppose the proof is in this post. And, like anyone with Kirsch blood pumping through their veins, I’m a stickler for protocol. When I poke fun at the fact that my paternal aunts and uncles barely stayed at my wedding, in their minds they likely reason that they were there, and that’s what matters. In their defense, I don’t really know them. In my defense, they never really tried to know me.

Like I said though, it’s the generation above – the parents – that I find to be at the root of this problem. Shame on our parents – all of them – for allowing drama between them to trickle down to the kids. It’s hard to navigate past family mishigas that’s been over a decade in the making, and so bonds that could have been formed among cousins never quite flourished.

But if we really take the time to traverse the course of this dysfunction, it’d probably trace back to the grandparents. The silence – perhaps you could call them silent feuds but that seems like a stretch – between my uncles and aunts and me is trivial compared to the relationship I have now with my dad’s parents.

At my sister’s bridal shower – one that should have been nothing but a celebration of simchot, my grandmother planted a sour seed. She was upset that the thank you note I sent her after my wedding was only two lines long. Leave it to my bubby to be the one person who can accuse an act of gratitude of being an act of hostility. This accusation – an alleged clearing of the air – came four months – yes, that’s right…nearly half a year – after the note was sent.

Passive aggressive at best, her words about the alleged diss were vile. I’m a woman of my words, and so I stand by whatever I wrote in the note. I’m not so bothered that she was bothered, I’m bothered by her complete lack of respect for my family. My parents – and honestly, mostly just my mother – have bent over backward for my grandparents over the years. My grandmother’s words have always been laced with insult and offense (very much meant), but I would have hoped that out of respect for my family – if not my parents, for my sister – she could have held her tongue a while longer.

Instead, she erupted at me – accusing me of fighting some sort of fight on my mother’s behalf. And that’s when she won. I gave in, and I reacted in defense. I let her know that she had offended me by insulting my character. If anything, I don’t fight my mother’s fights, because she taught me to only fight my own, and to always pick my battles wisely. I would never have chosen to engage in verbal battle with my grandmother. But I’m also not going to be walked all over. The truth hurts. It hurts that she’s never had my back. It hurts that she’s never defended my character or my mother’s. What hurts most of all, though, is that she couldn’t – just for once – embody a typical grandmother, and accept my initial apology. Instead, she let me say my piece, which was the final step in seemingly severing our relationship.

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to choose such fantastic friends, and that my mother’s family has been so unconditionally supportive and loving. I’m also thrilled to have married a man – and his family by extension – that only communicates from love. And, if I’m lucky enough that the time comes where more relationships are built on my dad’s side, so be it. I’d embrace such a thing with open arms.

Writing this post has been difficult, because it stoops to the same level of immaturity as my grandmother’s confrontation, but it’s a necessary evil – and a cathartic one at that.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,560 other followers