This blog post was originally written for BAUCEmag.com and published on August 2, 2016. A republication appeared on ThoughtCatalog.com on January 17, 2017.
We’ve all heard the slogan, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”. It typically implies that the circumstances of your neighbor (friend, co-worker, relative) seem better than yours. It could be money, opportunities, or the perceived access that your neighbor has to prosperity and wealth that makes you peek your head over the fence. After all, a well-manicured lawn has the ability to capture any bystander’s eye.
As you watch the people around you tend, water, and mow their lawn, you begin to look more closely at yours: the drying plot of land is drying up before your very eyes. While the sun continues to scorch your weakened blades of grass and the surrounded shrubbery loses its vegetation, you realize that your neighbor’s grass looks pretty ah-ma-zing. You may even question why your grass, which is in the same neighborhood, on the same street, is withering as you stare blankly in disbelief.
Well, here’s a wake-up call: water your own grass.
I remember when I was job hunting during my last semester in undergrad. Each opportunity seemed to manifest to nowhere. Leads that once seemed promising quickly faded away with each “we’ve decided to move forward with another candidate” email. I recall venting about it to my sorority sister who I saw endure this same process just a year before. Now, let me first say that my sorority sister is a true definition of a HUSTLER. During college she worked three jobs, bought a car, studied abroad in Spain, and still made time to educate freshman students on registering to vote. I watched her grow and refine herself from a stressed undergraduate into a polished young professional in a matter of a year. Surely, she would help me understand what I was doing wrong.
As we chatted, I recalled the job offers she turned down in hopes of finding the dream offer she eventually accepted.
“Yeah girl…” I began, “I keep applying, but it seems like every day I get a ‘thanks, but no thanks.’”
She laughed at me and replied, “Vannesia, do you know how many jobs I applied for when I was in undergrad?”
“I’m sure hundreds.” I stated.
I stopped, “Wait, THOUSANDS?” I replied as a looked at my spreadsheet of about 50 jobs openings I was googling.
“Yeah!” She continued, “THOUSANDS! I got plenty of rejection emails that I never told anyone about. I went on plenty of interviews that no one knew about, you will too. Just keep applying, it’ll come.”
As I got off the phone, I realized that although I was putting in work into my own lawn of opportunity, I was only doing “just enough” to keep it afloat. Sure I watered it, and even mowed it, but that wasn’t going to give me rich bed of flowers to lie in comfortably. I reflected on how my sorority sister kept her lawn. It seemed that both of us were in the same neighborhood, watering and mowing. Yet, in addition to mowing, my lovely neighbor had taken time to edge up, put down fertilizer, purchase sprinklers, hire more gardeners, dig up weeds, plant a garden, and purchase more land – unbeknownst to me. She put in the work, so now when people looked over their fences, there was something beautiful to see.
A true BAUCE, by definition, knows to be careful looking at what others have around her because she never knows what that person had to endure to arrive at their current state. New York Times Best-selling author Debbie Macomber once said, “If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, you can bet the water bill is higher.” The reality of the situation is that the person you spend time envying and measuring up against could very well be feeling the same way about your lawn. The late and great Dr. Maya Angelou said it best:
‘The problem I have with haters is that they see my glory, but they don’t know my story.’
I guarantee you that if I had known my line sister was putting in thousands of applications, I would have never complained to her. Since then, she has made even more BAUCE moves and I couldn’t be more proud of her – you go Glen CoCo.
As for me, I ended up graduating that year with no job. I moved back home, secretly put in more applications and received plenty more “We’ll save your application on file” one-liners. But I didn’t let the rejections stop me — I kept at it. Two months following graduation, I secured a job by following up on a tweet I saw come across my timeline on Twitter and approaching a company CEO on Facebook. It may seem unorthodox, but it’s my lawn and I learned the hard way that you have to do whatever it takes (even in the worse conditions) to make your ground as fertile as possible.
Tend to your own grass. You have your own plot for a reason — make sure that it is the absolute best you can make it. Put in the work and stay on your side of the fence. You’ll be amazed at the results you can yield in your lawn of opportunity.