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This is Unboxing

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

I’m not sure exactly when it started. I know I was introduced to this trend or this phenomenon of internet video trend when my daughter was pretty young. She would sometimes watch videos on YouTube and it seemed like the more popular ones were about kids showing off new items and toys they’d gotten before giving them a review.

The videos would follow the same type of format, thumbnail image with a bright, smiling, excited faced child holding up whatever new treasure they promised to share their truthful opinion on. In a world of paid streaming video services, these new videos seemed to replace the commercials of my youth. Gone were the days of cheesy commercials squished into time slots throughout your favorite saturday morning cartoons, now kids had ads that would pop up between videos of their favorite characters on youtube. But the real money makers seemed to be this new content tool of literally just “Hey, look what I got!” videos that promised to give the viewer an honest, real time walkthrough of what it would be like to own this new gadget or sought after item for your own.

I can only imagine what this type of internet content has done to change our world. There are literally tens of thousands of these videos online, maybe even millions of them. If a product is on the market, there’s very likely a video of someone opening the box it came from. They seem to be the long form, real-life reviews that we didn’t even know we wanted. In this day and age of transparency and having a vast array of knowledge right at our fingertips, reviews have become the new trusted friend to all of us. Need new shoes? Scroll down and look at the words from someone who’s already bought that pair. Shopping for kitchen appliances? Someone’s already given their honest account of what it’s been like to own that specific blender/juicer/coffee maker for the last 6 months or even 6 years.

We forget how lucky we are to have modern day conveniences and complain about first world problems all the time. And I think that one of the most overlooked luxuries we have is the ability to try things on for size without ever leaving our homes.

When Chloe was about 7 or 8, I remember her asking if she could unbox a new toy all by herself.

“Can you what?”

“Unbox it. You know, I wanna open all of it and tell you what I think about it.” She looked at me, exasperated, totally not understanding why I’d asked her to clarify what she meant. I mean, I knew what she meant, I was just surprised at the wording she’d chosen to use. Was this really a thing now? Did people really use this term instead of just saying they were opening something?

Then I realized there was a big difference between opening and unboxing. Opening something, especially a new purchase, means you’re just removing the item from whatever packaging it’s in and tossing the trash. Unboxing, however, that’s more of a ritual. Whether on camera or not, you’ll see someone (especially kids) take more care and get more pleasure out of seeing how the item was safely packaged and how much time and effort it takes before said item is actually ready for use. There are even mass quantities of surprise eggs filled with unknown goodies promising an awesome unboxing experience available for purchase in any toy section these days.

In January of 2020, just weeks before the CoVid-19 pandemic swept the entire world and changed the way we lived our lives, I found myself being drawn toward a new calling. I was attending an education event for hairstylists that was being hosted by my business coach of the last 4 years. She and the other speakers were so inspirational, so motivating and uplifting and the message I got out of the entire thing was that in order to stand out and be unique in our field and our industry, we needed to do things differently. We needed to tap into our potential and not settle for mediocrity.

This was the first time I can recall receiving the intuitive hit to write a book. I wasn’t sure what it would be about, I just knew that it was something I would have to do. The options of what I could write about were endless. Maybe I could share stories from nearly 20 years working behind the chair as a hairstylist. Or I could write a book about what it was like to be a mom to a tween-ager in a digital world. I’d be able to write about my marriage, my weight loss surgery, my truths about what it was like to be a friend, sister, daughter, wife, etc. You name it, every facet of my life seemed to contain a story.

I spent the next year telling people here and there that I was going to write a book, only I never had an answer for their question that followed. “What will you write a book about?” Well, that I’m not sure about. But I know it will come to me at some point. So the following year when my life was turned upside down, one of the first thoughts I had was “Well, this is a chapter I didn’t see coming.” As I slowly began to untangle the web of heartache and frustration that I’d found myself in, the more other people began to comment on how I was handling this journey. What made it so different? What was it about the way I was handling things after such a substantial loss so inspiring to others?

That’s when a pattern started to unfold in front of me. I realized that what made me stand out to people and the inspiration they found from the outside looking in as I navigated this new path I found myself on was that I was living out loud. I was sharing deep, raw, realistic emotion on social media. I was nurturing my love of travel. I was asking for help and graciously receiving all I could get. I also reciprocated the kindnesses I was blessed to receive and I shared the wealth of love and support I’d been given. Sure, I was on a really rough path, one I’d never want anyone else to have to go down, but that didn’t stop me from seeing the beauty that was visible all around me.

Honestly, I didn’t have to do things this way. I could shrivel up, resign myself to misery and heartache, never laughing or loving or smiling again, and just make every excuse in the book as to why I was a miserable shell of who I used to be. People would understand. They wouldn’t blame me for becoming a completely different person. But that just wasn’t my style. I didn’t need anyone’s permission to see the beauty in the ashes all around me. The life I’d once known, forever changed and shattered by loss, didn’t have to become this distant far off memory. I could still be the true, authentic, unapologetic and vulnerable person I’d always been. I could live my life and make choices that felt good and supported the future I'd envisioned for myself and my children. The plans I’d had for my life didn’t need to be scrapped.

They say that when you tell the story of how you overcame what you went through and that it will become someone else’s survival guide. I feel like that couldn’t be more true. I’d spent countless hours of my life scouring articles online, thumbing through self help books and filling the silence with podcasts or audiobooks that I was convinced would help me. The vast array of insight and knowledge I've received from others “failure-turned-success” stories is immeasurable. All of these realizations pointed to the same conclusion for me.

This. This is what my book would be about.

I would create a manual on how to survive finding yourself at a place in your life that you never imagined you’d be. I’d share the nitty gritty details of my steps through the muddy trenches of being a newly widowed mother of two. I would tell people how they didn’t need anyone else’s permission to do the same. They could live their lives according to their hopes and dreams and not let anyone else’s ideas or judgments shape the path they were on or the things they needed to do in order to feel whole again. Their grief didn’t have to mean that all of their hopes and dreams were over. They could love, laugh and be themselves again. Sure, there would be cracks, they would be different… but just like the Japanese pottery that’s more valuable after it’s been broken and repaired, golden veins tracing the lines where the pieces were joined back together, their resilience would make them more beautiful. Their pain and their heartache forever tracing the lines between who they once were and who they’d grown to be.

This was my unboxing. This is what it looked like to live out loud, outside the confines of grief, outside the box I’d been living in. I was slowly unboxing myself. And I was savoring every moment of unpackaging, unwrapping, untangling, and undoing the box I had put myself in.

Sharing my story was going to be my version of an unboxing video. Maybe I’d stumble, say “um” too many times, curse at a paper cut or even drop whatever treasures I pulled out of the box. Maybe it would go viral, being shared millions of times all over the internet and maybe it would touch the hearts of people all over the world. Or maybe it would stay in a google doc, on my laptop, never seeing the light of day, never selling a single copy or even being printed at all.

Either way, my book would be my therapy. Writing it all down, chronicling this trek through my life before the details slipped away and were forever lost in the dusty corners of my memory. I would write it, for myself. Get it all out. Knowing that the only person that I was responsible for helping would get what she needed from it. She would heal, grow and become more beautiful for having gone through tragedy and come out the other side.

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