How To Enter A National Competition and Be A Happy Loser

I'm currently typing this long overdue blog post from a hotel bed because, it's the first time in a while I have been able to catch my breath - I have been Beyonce having twin babies crazy. As well as my day job I have recently started presenting a digital radio program on Sunday afternoon on ABC radio. It's an amazing opportunity, excellent skill to add to my resume and just pure interesting fun. Some would say, "Tali, that's pretty freakin' adult presenting a radio program" and, you're right because it is. But, this post isn't about that, it's about what happened before that.   

If you had told me 8 weeks ago I would be one of the 5 finalists to replace Marc Fennell as the Triple J film reviewer I would have told you to put down the crack pipe or stop swinging from power lines. See, I was in the midst of what the kids' call an existential life crisis. Maybe it was the lack of protein talking from my newly founded vegetarian life but, I was convinced I wasn't good enough at anything I was doing. I watched people around me kicking life goal after life goal and, all I was doing was sitting on the bench running oranges. I desperately wanted to runaway to some idyllic island paradise and pour bucket after bucket of mojitos on my problems because, you know mature adult retaliatory response.   

When my friend tagged me in a post advertising the Triple J reviewer gig I was simultaneously excited (as pop culture is literally my second language) and scared fuckin' shitless. This was literally the job I had gone to University more than a decade ago to do. Was I good enough? It took me a really long time to decide if I was going to apply. On the one hand, you have to be in it to win it but, on the other hand is a bottomless pit of crippling defeat. I went with the third 'fuck it' hand - if I wanted to know if was good enough, for better or worse, this will give me the answer.

I looked at the review option list provided on the application. There were a heap of comedy classics but, I immediately decided on 13 Reasons Why. I thought, anyone can do a fun review when dealing with a comedy but, could I do an engaging review whilst talking about suicide and sexual assault? At the risk of being the biggest joy sucking buzz kill, I went for it. I figured, showing my ability to responsibly review a show would set me apart from the other entries... you know, because everyone loves the responsible person at a party! But, I also chose 13 Reasons Why because I had a point to prove from the soapbox I refuse to get off - pop culture is powerful. It would be my greatest test, to convince a nation of youths that programs like 13 Reasons Why offer a key of social commentary to unlock doors of conversations that might otherwise go left unsaid.  

I recorded my review and submitted my application with very little fanfare. I was VERY adamant not to mention I worked at the ABC and I didn't tell most of my colleagues I was applying. My application had no bells or whistles, which is VERY unlike me.

The most underwhelming application in the history of applications 

The most underwhelming application in the history of applications 

As soon as, I pressed "send" a huge sense of relief washed over my body. I wanted to see if I was good enough to apply and, I had just applied. Job done. The skip immediately started returning to my step. I even emailed the presenter of the program I normally work on and asked if she would consider letting me do a weekly review spot!

You can imagine my absolute shock when a couple weeks later on a Friday evening I received a call from the director of Triple J. Even though he addressed me by name, I was convinced he had the wrong number. As he was making the initial customary small talk all I kept thinking was, what do you want? When he told me I was a finalist, I didn't react. When he reiterated it by telling me I was in the top 5 of 1300 entries, I asked him if he was sure. In my 30 years of life I have never been speechless but, during that phone call I got pretty damn close. So much so, that when I got off the phone I contemplated calling him back just to prove I was excited because shocked me just sounded like emotionally incapable Rain Man.

They didn't know who I was and they picked me. I felt like a contestant on The Voice and Ricky Martin wanted me on his team.   

On Monday at 7am I was being introduced to Australia on the Triple J Breakfast program with Ben and Liam. I don't remember much about that interview except that I got mad at them for having not watched Master of None - so, you know,  pretty much true to my form. (Honestly, if you haven't watched Master of None, you need to do it immediately - stop reading this blog and go do yourself a favour!)

For the next couple of hours, I was engulfed in an achievement unlocked endorphin high. I felt like I was riding a unicorn through a field of glitter towards Ryan Gosling holding an armful of puppies! I was an Amazon on Themyscira. I was unstoppable. 

Then I got called into the manager's office.

See, not disclosing where you work is great for seeking self validation but, not so great when it comes to business transparency. I was asked why I didn't tell managers I was applying and why I didn't mention where I worked. I knew they were right but, I also knew my reasons for why I didn't disclose that information. I left that office feeling like I had the weight of a Harry Potter prophecy on my shoulders, neither can live while the other survives. If I got the gig, I would have to choose between jobs.  

Luckily (not so luckily), I wasn't going anywhere. I didn't get the job. Naturally, my first reaction was to plot revenge and go all Godfather on their asses but, then I remembered I was already a winner... you know, not in the real winning winner sense but, rather in the participatory ethos of entering meaning winning winner sense!

As I worked through my seven stages of grief, I immediately became more settled when I remembered my favourite scene from Cool Runnings. It's the night before the gold medal final and Derice turns to his coach and asks, "how will I know if I'm enough?". John Candy looks at him and replies, "when you cross that finish line, you'll know". I had that feeling when I pressed the send button on my application.

Of course actually winning would have been a nice cherry but, I already got to look beyond the Wizard-less curtain to see I had the power all along. I was enough. 

So at the risk of sounding like an embroidered throw pillow: you are enough... and, you don't need a national competition to prove your worth. Although, top 5 is pretty fuckin' awesome!       .