Hello there, friends!
Time for a story.
So, “I did the thing” is an expression I began using, initially, to show my excitement when I couldn’t summon any genuine feelings of excitement.
When I was a senior in high school, I participated in an club called Speech and Debate, a theater competition in which students would take published works and perform them at competitions around our district. There are a wide variety of event types one can do when they do Speech and Debate: Dramatic Interpretation (presentation of a dramatic work), Humorous Interpretation (presentation of a humorous work), Poetry (a reading of a poem or multiple poems with a common theme), Prose (can be either funny or sad, but typically these are short stories), and Duet Acting (can be funny or sad, but performed with two people rather than one, like the rest of the events), to name a few.
My senior year, I was performing a Poetry piece I had titled “The Dark Side of Brighton”, which used Neil Gaiman’s “My Last Landlady” as the major story and incorporated two other poems to fill in the story gaps.
I adored my piece. But Speech and Debate tournaments had a way of draining me. The days of the events usually had me waking up early in the morning on the weekends to travel to far off schools and have me return home at night, usually late, usually exhausted. I wouldn’t eat anything on tournament days because I was usually a little nervous and didn’t trust myself to stomach anything. Being surrounded by so many other people stressed me out, and with every performance I would pour my heart into bringing my characters to life. By the time they came around to announcing who was going to be moving on to the final rounds, I would have already hit my peak for the day and I would be existing in an hallow state of mind, feeling nothing, slightly annoyed by everything.
There was a particular tournament where I was in my state of emotional emptiness when they announced the Poetry finalists. And this time around, I was one of the finalists.
My team was ecstatic for me. Congratulations and hugs were flying right and left. I was dead inside and suddenly overcame with guilt for being so detached. I was a finalist! I should be happy, houldn’t I?
Someone asked me, “Aren’t you excited, Ashlynne?”
I panicked. I faked a smile and gave the only reply I could think of. “I… I did the thing.”
Everyone loved it.
“Yeah! You did it!”
“You did the thing!”
So I kept repeating those four words until my smile felt more genuine, and I could feel a little joy in my spirit. I did the thing.
The phrase evolved from its dispassionate roots into something of a running joke, inside of my theater friends and out of it. While they never were aware of the fact that is was, the first time it was used, an exercise in making me a human being again, they liked the way it worked for any achievement we encountered. “The thing” could be just about anything you wanted it to be, and it was that versatility that made a wonderfully silly yet heartfelt recognition of a job well done.
Got a thirty on your ACT? You did the thing!
Applied for a job and got an interview scheduled? You did the thing!
Woke up late but still made it to school on time? Congrats! You did the thing!
No longer was it a defense against despair for me; “I did the thing” became my proclamation of pride and joy. I loved being able to tell people I did the thing, and congratulate others when they, too, did their own things. It became one of my many unofficial senior quotes for the year, right on up to graduation.
Since high school, I have found myself using the phrase less often than I did back then to describe my personal achievements. This isn’t because I haven’t achieved anything; in fact, I feel like I have done many things over the last twelve months that are worthy of that congratulatory expression of my own devising.
Today, I am bringing it back. Today, I am happy to announce that while technically “the thing” hasn’t been done yet, in two short months that will change.
My novel, Haywood Micaye, is going to be released on July 23rd, 2018.
I did the thing.
Until next time,