HOW DEBILITATING PERFECTIONISM INTRODUCED THIS UNLIKELY CANNAVIST TO HERSELF & BEYOND.
NOVEMBER 23, 2018 | BY: KARLI ADAMS
I’ve recalled being an overachiever since childhood; a perfectionist, someone in control, over-prepared, and always early.
In fact, cannabis was a concept that really scared me when I was a teenager and young adult. Being high, with no inhibitions, felt like I’d lose the containment I’d desperately attained and neatly organized my life into. No way!
Even growing up in Northern California, with plenty of exposure to the sights and smells associated with “weed”, I was still so hesitant. “Would it make me a different person?”, I wondered. It took living with an illegal grower and dealer in Santa Cruz to truly open my eyes to the potential cannabis held for me.
Soon after moving in, we were smoking joints and taking walks along the cliffs overlooking the ocean. And we’d smoke joints and watch documentaries. We’d smoke joints and just talk about life…for hours. Cannabis didn’t make me a different person, it made me a better person. I wanted to spend time outside, show compassion to my friends and family, and understand myself better. Never before did I have a strong urge to connect with nature or slow down to enjoy a conversation over dinner with my roommates. It was groundbreaking for someone like me. My brain had always felt hardwired for the next challenge before, overwhelming me with “what if’s” and “did they like me’s?” or whatever other self-deprecating thoughts my mind conjured up to distract me from, well, me.
I continued to use cannabis socially, but plummeted into a deep depression after dropping out of college. I felt utterly lost in tunnel vision, questioning why I even existed on a daily basis. Every activity was a challenge; a test of self-loathing while I was still desperate for approval in the same moment. Negative thoughts became an obsession; I was useless, hopeless, and adorning myself in a happy mask each day to hide the truth. I sought help from a doctor for suicidal thoughts and anxiety but walked away feeling like another form that needed to be filed…not a person really struggling.
I was prescribed medication and took it diligently but never felt any benefit, and soon my anxiety was getting so intense that I was sleeping less than 3 hours a night simply unable to stop the racing thoughts. I began smoking cannabis very heavily in the evening as it calmed my mind and put my life into perspective. I was finally able to just hear silence, and to be easy on myself. If you’ve been there, you understand the freedom in that last sentence.
My husband and I moved to Colorado on a whim in 2014. We were fresh out of military life and taking a total risk on life. I was determined to find a job within the cannabis industry and landed a budtending position in Boulder within my first week there! Recreational cannabis was still in its infancy at the time, and a completely different landscape than what we see today, but working there still felt like a privilege.
It felt like coming home to people that understood me and culture that embraced me, there was no need for a happy mask here…I was genuinely happy.
My determination and perfectionism quickly paid off as I was promoted to the General Manager within a year. I oversaw several employees, inventories, purchasing, state compliance, and kept the store in operation. I now had a purpose in life that had never been so clear to me, especially since I had only ever perceived my future as empty. The depression was lifting and although I had finally found myself underneath all that negativity, I was still waking up to anxiety most mornings. With my “dream job” came a lot of stress and I was feeling the pressure to be the perfect manager; to make all my employees happy, increase sales, and stay on top of all my duties.
When CBD products were introduced recreationally, it was a game changer for me. I was accustomed to medicating by smoking, dabbing, or eating THC to help with my insomnia but would definitely be too high to have a competent interaction with my boss during the workday. High CBD/low THC products allowed me to take the edge off my anxiety and focus on tasks at hand with a fresh mindset. With this amazing tool I saw confidence in myself, not fear; and I was again promoted, this time to the Marketing Manager. My biggest interest as the GM was in the advertisements, social media, and events surrounding the growth of the cannabis industry so this was a challenge I eagerly accepted. In this role I developed a deep passion for cannabis photography, I was absolutely obsessed with how beautiful this plant was in both natural and refined forms. This art was a way for me to communicate how much cannabis has helped me and has changed me; and could potentially be the key to ending its stigmatization with enough exposure and education.
While I do witness an abundance of positivity and happiness emerging out of the cannabis industry, I would certainly like to see a stronger female presence and perspective.
Particularly while in my marketing role, male-dominated meetings felt like a boy’s club I wasn’t invited to. Or worse, sexist remarks were tiptoed around and never addressed. At times my ideas were not deemed valid until a man of authority said they were. I heard the right words of respect most days but never felt it, which led to my bittersweet departure from that company. Unfortunately, since then, I have encountered similar situations and people within the industry that have left a bad taste in my mouth.
Nothing, however, can keep my determination and love away from cannabis and propelling it forward into the mainstream. Currently, as a freelance photographer, I’m able to express myself creatively and pursue the type of work I find passion and worth in. I’m able to work with the brands, influencers, and companies I support in a much more intimate way than I ever could in management. For any brave souls wishing to enter the cannabis field, my advice is to stay true to your values and don’t compromise them. It’s easy to get caught up in the competition, the hyped events, and the “swag” but knowing what cannabis means to you and keeping that close will always get you further.
Continue to educate yourself and others in an authentic way and we can end the social stigma altogether. ✊🏼🌿
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