“You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t. So you might as well just do whatever you want.”
Kacey Musgraves performed Follow Your Arrow that night at the Grammys, and hearing it all these years later took me back to a day. A time. A place when I thought everything was wrong and I was so lost.
I was back in that apartment living room. 2011. I lost my job a few days before. We were buying a house. Surrounded by boxes, I wondered if this was the right thing to do – buying a house when I couldn’t bet on my marriage lasting. Unemployed. I listened to the song over and over again. “Follow your arrow wherever it points,” she sang with this particular country twang that took me back to the carpeted spot I used to sit, just in front of my grandparents’ record player.
I remember the light in the apartment. I can smell the freight yard just feet away. I can feel the ache in my heart – that ache of having no idea what the fuck an arrow is and where the hell it was pointed.
It’s kind of crazy how a song can do that to you. They transform a moment and send me back, just far enough away, above the moment playing out, that I can see what I couldn’t say or think then. Ponder with the perspective of the storyteller. The one that knows how it all ends up.
That’s the part that makes living in the moment hard: being a liver instead of a storyteller. Getting a little perspective on the past doesn’t happen in real time. We’re not flooded with all the things we’ll ever know to satiate that part of our heart that just wants all the answers about where we’re going.
Last week as I drove across the state line back to Colorado for the first time since I left five months ago, I had this perspective wash over me remembering the person trembling as they took off toward Kansas in December. The part of me that had no idea what we’d figure out if we just drove into the sunset over and over again in search of something I needed.
I was what I needed.
I am the arrow and I am getting what I need by retreating inward, running toward the only person that can save me. For years, and especially on that night all those years ago when I heard Kacey at the Grammys, I ran toward others to save me. I wanted them to speak to this echo I heard over and over. The part of me that wanted to be needed by others so badly.
And that song coming on just as I saw the ironically brown “Welcome to Colorful Colorado” sign was a reminder. A reminder that I am different. I am enough. I’ll be there to pick myself up and head into the right direction, blasting my soundtrack while I follow this arrow wherever it goes.
You’re on your way too. You and whatever the hell your arrow is.
PS My blog this week is about another place I want to see us heading toward: trans-affirming workplaces. Read the post here.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.