My first day of adventures in Atlanta was thankfully mild. The night before, I had flown in, argued with an Uber driver, starved, was locked out of my room that I shared with an unfamiliar coworker, and did not sleep well. My body was not pleased with me for traveling; despite taking medicine to prevent dizziness and whatnot, I was still plagued with it. When I say I wished that there was a day between my arrival and my conference starting, I do not lie. I appreciate the hours that I did have, but my body was drained.
The day started at 7am. My roommate and I were groggily up at 6am. While she showered, I took the time to brush my hair and begin that part of my routine. Before we knew it, we were both dressed up and ready to go. I will not bore you with the details of acquiring a bland breakfast, registering, and waiting for the conference to commence. I will admit that I was a bundle of nerves. I was in the fanciest hotel I had ever been in and surrounded by strangers. Soon, I was sitting in a room, about to go on a journey.
We went through the standard meet and greet at our tables. We compared our stores. We joked. Then, we began the exercises.
I must admit, it was interesting to see how some reacted. Our instructor wanted us to call one of our managers, assistant or shift, and thank them. Thank them for all they do. Tell them we trust them in our stores. Tell them we would not be calling them or checking in.
He kept stressing and stressing one thing. You. Are. Not. Responsible. For. Other. People’s. Reaction.
I called my store. My shift manager answered the phone. I thanked her and asked to speak to the other shift lead. I choked up a smidgen. He and I have worked together for 8 years. He has a place in my heart, and I am beyond thankful for him. In that moment, I missed his calm demeanor. That was a huge slap that I was alone. Miles away from home. I called my first assistant (I have two) and smiled when I heard her. She cares so much and wanted to do her best. I assured her that I had faith in her, would stand by her choices, and would not leave the store in the hands of anyone else.
Returning to the room, I found it had a different atmosphere. When people shared how their managers reacted, it was shocking to me.
Too often, we neglect to thank people for what they do. People want to be recognized for what they do. They want to hear you.
I was stuck. I thank my team and enjoy them. We are a nice unit and work well together. But, at that moment, it felt as if I was not doing enough.
Our next exercise involved us looking at different angles of a story. To arrange it. To zoom out. Look at the bigger picture.
I can not describe what I felt at the time. It was strange.
When the day concluded, I excused myself to my room. My mind was thinking. And I felt alone. I changed and went for a walk.
Behind the hotel, I found a stone path. As you can see, it was serene. Lovely. Peaceful. As I kept exploring, I found waterfalls. I found flowers. I found benches. Then, I found the gem. The swing.
It stretched into a remote section of the forest. I sat and reflected. I called my partner and spoke with them forever. Spewing half formed thoughts. Expressing my loneliness. Sharing my adventure thus far. I wrote and wrote.