Marketing is about validating a brand’s attributes and communicating value. It’s about approaching business functionality in a holistic way—working in accordance with company objectives, in concert with all media, and with consistent messaging to targeted groups most likely to respond to that media. Mostly, it’s about establishing an emotional connection between a company and a consumer. The brand will resonate to that person because of their experience. And they will always want to come back for that feeling again.
This is what I do everyday. And in the midst of my gloomy phase, had forgotten to do for myself. The irony of change is that as much as you want it to stop, you actually crave more—you just want to have the reigns and take control. I wanted to look into the mirror and see someone different. I wanted my surroundings, environment, everything to be uprooted, making me forget about whatever hurt I was feeling like a smooth bottle of red wine. Whoever I was, I wanted to run away from and pretend like she never happened.
“You need to rebrand.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You started out as one kind of Jackie. You kind of lost her a little bit, and are now this other Jackie that you don’t really recognize. You’ve lost the connection to yourself and people can’t really connect to you because you are guarded. You need to rebrand.”
This came from an unlikely friend whose opinions hold weight with me. If you had asked me four years ago, I would have laughed at the idea of every speaking to this person again. Fate can be cunning that way. Harris is everything that we know better than to be involved with, with a smile that makes you look the other way. He is arrogant and attractive, frustrating and charming. An all around a complete jerk unable to commit to a woman because the one time he did, he got burned. And so like many men in New York, decided to instead ground himself in late nights of investment banking that allowed him the liquidity to manage a deep bench of 4 a.m. phone calls.
I met him when I was 24. We were very compatible kissers. Which can be a deal breaker if it goes the other way. But the first time we kissed it was like we were only meant to be kissing each other, and everyone else had just been practice along the way. We had one hot month. Before he left for business school. Before I found out he had an ex-girlfriend he couldn’t get over. Before I told him his shit was a mess, and he was a waste of my time that should lose my phone number.
He didn’t. And would call two years later after finishing his MBA and moving back to the city. I asked if he was part of a 12 step program and this was his forgiveness journey, before I explained I had a boyfriend. At the time, I was with Him. And happy. And so Harris and I became what we were always meant to be: just friends. I am the friend that tells him when he is being an asshole to the model/Rockette/aspiring designer/law student/waitress/etc. and should give her a chance. And he tells me when I am being a crazy girl. It’s a level of honesty that makes for good advice.
“So how do I rebrand?”
“Just shake things up a bit. If things start feeling different to you, then you’ll start being different.”
“If I buy you a beer, will you come over and help me move furniture?”
That night, Harris helped me rearrange my apartment. Bed to a new wall, throw out one of the bed side tables, bookshelves from bedroom to living room, this chair here, couch there. I owed him more beer by the end of the night. The following Friday I spent painting my kitchen cabinets, re-hanging pictures, and also…wall papered. Gulp. Sarah (relieved I was no longer sleeping at her apartment all the time) went with me to buy a new duvet cover and all new bedding. Pink. I wanted everything to be pink, because when you live with a guy, the days of pink and floral become extinct from your home decor handbook. Nothing looked the same. And I liked it.
The next day came the biggest change of all. I. Cut. My. Hair. Eight inches. New job. Fresh apartment. Different hair. I loved rebranding. I was no longer the sad, wavy-haired, no-pink-in-my apartment single girl who hated everyone who took her to dinner. I was a chic, savvy New Yorker with everything ahead of her! So where did I head? To the bar.
Two of my good friends from college, Emily and Elizabeth, were in town and staying with me. The night before they left, we were at Elaine’s until 4 a.m. And have the GREATEST stories from that night that still make us laugh.
I would step outside of these moments sometimes, because the laugh would sometimes catch me off guard, sort of like a muscle that hadn’t been used in a long time. I saw my laugh happening in a way that I had never imagined. And I would watch myself just being there, in that moment, and that is the moment of my life. And it’s…happy. These unexpected moments are what filled the spaces where other things had gone missing. And as I would pause and look around, these moments felt full. It might look different from what I had anticipated or planned. But it’s all mine.
I don’t know if I would have these if I were with Him. Would I have gone out? Or would I just have stayed home? If it meant trading in the compilation of these moments to be back in my relationship, I wouldn’t do it. Each one has become a little parcel that shows me what I am, how I connect to others, the message I send; rebranding. And loving the journey of that. That is what we are given in life. Beautiful moments that you learn to appreciate.
Today, eight months later, my furniture has all been moved back to its original place. I am growing my hair back out. And I feel comfortable with everything being as it was in the way I first imagined it. There is nothing like the original. No matter how long it took to get the brand right.