Before Corona blew up to a point where we were all quarantined, I took a work trip to Chicago for a two day meeting. The date of the meeting was planned about 2 months in advance, but I did not book my flight and hotel until a week before the event. I may be a habitual procrastinator, but I admit even for me this was bad. One week out? My company policy restricts booking travel less than 2 weeks out.
So why did I wait so long?
I was afraid.
The meeting was for all the corporate sustainability leaders for each office in the US. I was meeting up with basically the most kind-hearted, service-minded people the company has the states, and I was nervous to be in front of them.
The day before I left, I cried.
I was talking to Patrick about my anxiety and down rolled the tears. As always when I start to melt down, he hugged me and reminded me everything would be fine. And as always, I felt better.
The day of the trip, I was fine. My flight was delayed because one of the flight attendants who was to man our flight was sick, and could not work the return flight to Chicago. My 10:30AM trip to Chicago turned into a 4:30PM trip to Chicago. I made the best of it by hitting up the one an only Chik-Fil-A in our region. Yup. The ONLY CFA we have can only be accessed after we pass through TSA at our airport.
After a long wait, I finally arrived. Then walked about a half mile to get to the Uber pick up station. When I got to the hotel I met up with two new people an we walked to dinner right next door to the hotel. I used my cane and my hiking stick, which shrunk on the walk because I did not tighten it tight enough when I extended the pole! We had to stop so I could adjust things and continue on to dinner.
The next day at our meeting I had to walk into a room full of people, squeeze through a 3 foot section to get to my chair. Of course people offered to move me, but I said I was fine. I was. But I still squeezed my core the whole way to my seat to be absolutely sure I wouldn’t have some stupid gaffe as I avoided touching people’s chairs along my way!
One of my new friends had a chat with me about what my situation was and how he admired my attitude. I teased him about his delivery. It is not always easy to tell me you are impressed by anything related to how I live my life considering my walk, without sounding like you are looking down on me. It comes with the territory. Lucky for him I am not a jerk who thinks everyone is judging me and takes offense at what is intended to be a compliment.
Our conference was great. I learned a lot, met some really cool people, got a lot ideas for what I want to do in the office (all of which are now put on hold!), and just plain had fun.
I knew everything would be fine, but even knowing that, I still had to get over that ball of nerves. I don’t know that they will ever be non existent when presented with a situation where I have to meet a lot of new people, but I know I can deal with it. And I know I will be better for it when I do.