Consistency is an important part of any career. It's not just doing good work all the time. It goes beyond what quality your work is to what quality of person you are. Being consistent is letting people know they can rely on you, and it's following through on what you say you'll do because that's what people do who care.
My problem with consistency is that I am a tornado, and I have found my tornado nature is both wildly inconsistent and difficult to change, which makes me think that co-dependency on a stable (read: low-maintenance) boyfriend might help. So I think I need an ENTP. So, I'm only dating those from now on. (Yes, the 25-year-old is an ENTP. Personality type is ageless.)
But my inconsistency is no small problem. Here's an example. I agree to new photos of me for a publication even though I have done tons of photo sessions already and have a gazillion expensively-lit ten-people-making-it-happen photos of myself.
Not only do I say yes, but I agree to do it the day before I leave for the SXSW conference. And I tell the magazine I'll get a fake tan. Because it's a summer issue. I've never gotten a fake tan and it seemed like maybe it would be fun. Maybe I'd end up looking like I'm in an artsy Versace ad where everyone has big attitudes and big tans.
But at the tanning place I got extremely nervous that maybe tanning places in Madison, Wisconsin suck. I realized that a messed-up tan was no problem for the photographer. He can Photoshop it. But I cannot Photoshop myself at SXSW.
But I already said I'd get the tan. And I am trying to be more consistent. Following through on getting a fake tan would be the consistent thing to do. After all, I didn't have a commitment to just the photographer, but also to Jan. Jan is the spray-tan lady.
I tried to be trusting but once I got my clothes off, there was no more trust: It occurred to me that I would have this tan for my sex romp with the 25-year-old, and I imagined all the ways that spray tanning could be done incompetently. I ask Jan a barrage of questions: Should people with freckles get a tan? Is that too much too wrong in a Michael Jackson sort of way? Does the spray stuff pool in my belly button? And what about under my breasts? Will that part be white?
Jan charges me double because of the questions. I pay, because maybe it's true that you get what you pay for.
Four hours later I do the photos and we end right at five because it's family dinner night, even though my ex and I are not the family you're thinking of. And I worry a lot about being consistently there for family stuff, because, remember, you never have a problem at work that you don't have at home as well.
I get home to dinner and scoop up my three year old and kiss him. He says, “Something smells like dirty socks,” and starts taking off his socks.
I panic. I ask the Ex if I smell. He says, “I don't want to smell you.” He is working on setting boundaries. Then he says, “Do you have a fake tan?”
Crap. I can't ask the ex if I look too stupid to go to SXSW. Bad boundaries. And the risk of smelling like fake tan seems very bad in the 25-year-old department. So I take a shower.
Then I call my friend Sharon who is a hairdresser. I am a very inconsistent friend to Sharon and do terrible-friend things to her like only call when I need something. Fortunately she's a hair stylist to the rich and famous in LA so her knowledge of how to groom to perfection complements my own lack thereof, and I call her a lot.
She says buy Nioxin. And she says, “You are doing too much.” Sharon consistently gives me good advice.
I tuck the kids into bed. After I sing to them so that they will have childhood memories of me being a consistent parent. I take one more shower for good measure. I answer email, return phone calls and IM the 25-year-old to see if he is feeling excited to see me which takes a while since he's not the type to say so without prodding.
Then it's 1am and it's time to pack. I pack almost every week to go on business trips. But SXSW is not a normal business trip. It is prom for bloggers. And I'm not sure what to wear. So I pack everything. I take two suitcases for five days.
I speed on the highway and I make the flight.
But my suitcases don't.
I tell myself, fine. I'll get them on the next flight. I tell myself, be calm. Consistent people do not come undone over late baggage.
I get on my plane to Dallas. I sleep. I land. I get on my Blackberry and answer emails because consistent people do not let emails pile up when they travel. I call into the office. I find my gate, and I do not miss my connecting flight.
Then I go to the bathroom. I stand in the stall while I finish an email. I sit on the toilet and I am amazed at how dark I am. I pull down my pants to my ankles to inspect my legs. The airport bathroom light is not flattering, but is likely true. And the truth is that people will know this tan is fake.
I tell myself not to panic. I can have sex with the lights out. But there's no way SXSW is happening in the dark. Crap.
So far, I have somehow maintained consistency.
Then I leave my Blackberry in the bathroom stall. And I fly to Austin before I notice.
I fall behind on emails. I miss a phone call at 10:15. I also miss the 10:45. Two more people who think I'm unreliable. And I miss my radio show. My guests call in and listeners tune in, and I'm not there. And neither is my consistency.