There it was. Her photo. She is prettier than me, I thought. She had a great smile. “Damn it,” I whispered as I scrolled through her Facebook profile. I bet she had braces. She could be a toothpaste model. My teeth slant and are stained the color of my favorite latte. I heard she was smart, funny and some sort of an artist.
She was an artist alright. She could make a masterpiece out of an Etch A Sketch. There was a sketch of The Joker, Superman and even the Pope. The only thing I ever managed to create on that thing was a box with uneven lines. I can barely draw a stick finger with a pencil and paper. It must take great patience to draw on an Etch A Sketch. Fantastic! She has me beat in that category, too. I lose my mind after 5 minutes with an 11-year-old and Common Core math. I didn’t know this woman, but I disliked her. After all, she was my competition.
Her name is Shea. She and I were up for a job as the co-host of a local morning show on a country station. I don’t own a cowboy hat or know the first thing about line dancing. I did have a weird obsession with Kenny Rogers as a kid. At 9-years-old I had a poster on my wall of a gray haired man next to a pinup of Thomas C. Howell and Ricky Schroeder. My grandmother listened to Conway Twitty on her 8-track cassette player. It was the size of an office chair with multi-color lights that flickered to the beat. I hated the music, but was mesmerized with the technology. It doesn’t seem so impressive now. That’s the extent of my country music resume. Still, I really wanted this job. I needed this job. I had worked part-time in television for over a decade to raise my children. I chose not to send them to daycare. Well, they are all in school now. My life felt stagnate. I longed for change, financial independence and a creative outlet that didn’t involve crayons and a placemat at a chain restaurant.
I dabbled in radio here and there, but this would be the big break I needed. I auditioned. Shea auditioned. Then, I got an offer from another company and dropped out of the race. Shea didn’t get that job. Another woman landed the gig. I don’t know where Shea ended up. Honestly, I never thought of her again until today. I was scrolling through Facebook and there it was. Her photo. That perfect smile. My heart dropped when I read the caption. Shea had committed suicide. I am sad for her family and friends. It also saddens me that I was rooting against her. Yes, that is natural because she was my competition. But I sunk deeper than that. I was a caddy bitch – not directly to her – we never met or shared mutual friends, but that doesn’t make a difference to me now. Women who are insecure or jealous often resort to attacking others. Instead, we should be building each other up and admiring one another’s strengths. It turns out, Shea wasn’t that much different than me. I, too, struggled with depression in my life. Maybe she needed that job as much as I did. Maybe she looked at her photo and focused on imperfections only she saw. Based on the social media posts I have read thus far …. Shea didn’t realize how many people were rooting for her – in life – not to get a job that seems so insignificant now.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
You can read more about Shea Baker here: Kentucky.com