This is my 50th published blog post. Not quite a major achievement, but considering the average length of these posts, I can safely say that 50,000+ words is quite a lot of writing.
This post marks a milestone in my development. Since starting this blog my career has improved, my relationships have improved, and my life has considerably improved. I also stumbled across self-talk and have mixed it with my lowbrow understanding of rhetoric. Honestly, I’ve had experiences that I never imagined would happen.
In a simple nutshell, this post is about all those small milestones that we fail to acknowledge. This is about those milestones that need to be acknowledged. A milestone is a rhetorical situation that often times gets skimmed over. In this last week, I’ve received quite a bit of news regarding other’s milestones. I’d like to think this post is for each of them and the opportunity at their feet.
The Good Ones
I remember attending a military retirement ceremony and party about 10 years ago. Now, I had been to retirement parties. I get the same feeling from an estate sale. You know the one. It’s like everyone is ignoring the looming gloom in the room. There’s always a ton of halfcocked smiles and awkward unenthusiastic small talk. With the military retirement that was not the case.
The whole ceremony was focused around the retiree’s wife. The whole ceremony was about her. It was quite moving and unexpected. They gave her a plack with a poem about her sacrifice, a flag, flowers, and her husband. Yes, the ceremony was mostly about “giving her husband back to her”. They knew he had a commitment and knew she always took second place to his duty.
They created a rhetorical situation in which they wanted to convince this woman that she had value and she was also subject to her husband’s commitment.
The whole ceremony was quite convincing. Any milestone worth the title has a sense of ceremony, but this was a literal ceremony. For good ones and especially great ones, the ceremony of milestones serve as a conduit to press one major validating quality. In the case of a normal retirement we press the notion, “this person was a value to the company”. For a military retirement, the notion shifts to, “Your sacrifice did not go unnoticed”.
Use the opportunity of a good milestone to solidify your gratefulness to those who have been there for you.
The Bad Ones
I know it’s hard to think of any milestone as “bad”, but they do exist. This could be a fateful diagnosis, accident, or even death. We often to refer to them as “wakeup calls”, but they are solitary moments where we pause to consider our next steps.
You have to remember, a milestone marks a big change or a shift. For a “bad” milestone, the rhetorical situation is an opportunity to shift your focus or the focus of other for a positive change.
Just a couple years ago, feels like shorter than that, I had a friend attempt suicide. We had a ton in common and that might be why it hit me so hard. He had graduated with his master’s, struggled to find a job, and found little support from family or friends (including myself not being much help to him). I’ll never forget that morning I found out. His milestone marked a rock bottom that he had hit and he knew it. It opened up a situation that forced others to listen and convinced us all that he needed to make changes. This meant we had to accept those changes.
For him, his life has gotten much better, but not without work and cutting out some unnecessary relationships. He saw the failed attempt as the milestone it was. I’m proud of him and all that he’s accomplished. The fact that he was able to use that moment and build from it speaks volumes about his ability to get through hard times.
Although we look to have these kind of moments fade into our rear view, the best “bad milestones” are a source of inspiration that we can draw on for strength. They are either a moment we wish to avoid or a reminder that our lives have changed for the better.
The Ugly Ones
These are the kind of moments that are hard to place completely within one camp or another. The truth, these milestones are confusing. Like cutting someone out of your life, your sad that the relationship couldn’t work, but happy that you can move away from experiencing their poor choices. Creating a rhetorical situation around these kind of moments are difficult.
One such instance was the third week of January 2015 when I had to close the watch store down and subsequently became a full time graduate student. I had to let go all the people I had hired after hitting month after month of sales goals. While that was tragic, I had spent 3 months in a living nightmare of writing papers at work and getting work related phone calls in class. Mandatory overtime employment and full time graduate school do not mix.
If it wasn’t for the store closing, I wouldn’t have been offered a Graduate Student Assistantship. Without that GSA, I would have never graduated. Without all of that, I wouldn’t have this blog. So, in essence, that experience was a great thing, but at the time, it felt like I wasn’t good enough for anything (considering I had multiple professors tell me I didn’t belong there, I felt pretty isolated as well). I’m grateful for the other professors that stuck by and made sure I had a spot. Seriously, a huge shout out to Dr. Greene for helping me through a hard time.
The rhetorical situations caused by these instances should be treaded lightly. Unfortunately, I cannot give a one-size-fits-all advice. There’s just too many variables. I guess I would try to say, just be conscience of the situation and be careful.
Whether you’re celebrating a new chapter of your life opening, reflecting on an old chapter closing, or can’t decide which to look at, remember milestones are there for a reason. Milestones open the floor to a new rhetorical situation that otherwise would have been skipped over. If you’re audience is yourself, well, you have to stop and think about these moments. If you’re audience is someone else, then you need to consider what one point you want them to take away and really drive that home.
Like always, thank you for taking the time to read my post and I hope you found something to add to your everyday rhetoric repertoire.
I’ll be reaching out to people for interviews and writing blog posts about their interesting research or lives. If you want your research/work showcased or just really like talking to me, feel free to fill out the form located on the Contact page or just drop me a DM on twitter using my handle: @everydayrhet. I’d love to hear from you.