Do Your Achievements “Count” if People Don’t Link “You” to Them?

Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek

Every so often, I Google various combinations of “Jenny” and “Jennifer” and my maiden and married name just to see what people are saying about me. I do this mainly to see what potential employers (or old frenemies) think that they know about me.

Now, I am a Jennifer. My husband has several cousins named Jennifer. At least one of my own cousins married a Jennifer. Also, to further complicate things, I went to high school with A BUNCH of people who have the same last name as my future husband, even though they aren’t relatives and I didn’t even know my husband back then. One of these classmates was named Jennifer. As a result, I know of several women named Jennifer Gaffron at some point in their lives, and several women named Jennifer Woytek at some point in their lives.

So, I’m not that surprised when I find a bunch of results in my Google name search that aren’t actually about me. I’m okay with this. The women who come up in the image searches are attractive. They seem to have pretty happy, well-rounded lives. I’m very relieved that none of these results are that bad. I found that one combination of “my first name” and “my last name”led to one of those shady websites where your co-workers can post anonymous comments about you. The result for my name said something to the effect of, “She’s pretty grouchy, and nobody in this office likes her.” If one of my coworkers actually did write this about ME, then my apologies to all of the rest of you people with “my first name” and “my last name.”

So, I did one of my “name” searches tonight. I learned that a photo that I took appeared this past June in the “Top Photos of the Week” section of my hometown newspaper’s online version. (This “hometown newspaper” is the Daily American, Somerset County’s only daily.)

See, my dad’s neighbor got married in a socially-distanced ceremony. The wedding party paraded down my hometown’s Main Street. (This was the same section of Main Street that my high school marching band paraded down in this blog post.) I took several photos. I emailed the photos to my aunt since she attends the same church as the bride. I told my aunt that I was okay if the happy couple did whatever they wanted with the photos.

Tonight, I discovered that one of these photos appeared online in my childhood newspaper.

I hope that the new couple has a long and happy life together.

I’m flattered that someone liked the photo enough to send it to the Daily American, and that the Daily American liked it enough to post it.

This is the VERY FIRST TIME that a photo that I took appeared in a “newspaper,” even if it is an “online newspaper.” This is the very first time that a photo that I took appeared anywhere outside of my blogs and my social media accounts.

The Daily American even credited me.

I thought, “But they credited me as Jennifer Woytek. Nobody will know that I took the photo. Nobody back home knows me as Jennifer Woytek. Jennifer Woytek was someone else who went to our high school. Everyone back home knows me as one of the Gaffrons.”

Then it hit me. A lot of the people that I knew from “back home” actually moved away from Somerset County. Just as I did. Somerset County does not have a lot of high paying jobs. So, maybe nobody that I knew from back when I was Jenny Gaffron even looks at the Daily American anymore.

So, does it actually ‘count” if you accomplish something “neat” and nobody that you know socially knows about it?

This reminded me of the blog post that my sister wrote about the time that she saw David Sedaris speak. She posted a photo of her ticket stub. She wondered, “Does life only count if I post about it on social media?”

My sister made a good point.

Now, back to the results of “my first name” and “my last name.” Most of these results are of women WHO AREN’T ME accomplishing things professionally THAT I DIDN’T ACCOMPLISH. I’m happy that these women are making ME look better to potential employers, frenemies, and cyberstalkers. Thanks, you guys!

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