Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Left Alone

I saw a blog prompt that said to talk about a time you were left totally alone in something, and how you dealt with it.

A few examples came to my mind, but I settled on a work example.

It was only my second week at my current job. I was still in the training process, and didn't know many people at all. We had this big meeting to reveal the new name of our company, since two were merging together. I was working with people who originally came from a small, local company, bought out by a huge, technology centered corporation. It was a stressful time for everyone, because they were learning how to do all documentation on their PDA's and tablets and starting to get rid of anything that used paper. People were getting laid off. This reveal meeting was not only giving us our new name, but also new uniforms, company colors, symbol, mission, etc. It was a big freaking deal.

After the meeting, we had to go back to our office to pass out new name badges. To eliminate confusion and lag time, everyone was asked to do this, so that we could all be united as a new company. I was the first one back to the office, and the only "office staff member" there for a while, and people were anxious to get back out to see their patients. It was mass chaos. People were coming in, talking about the meeting, confused about uniforms, and needing their badges. I found the envelope and had to sit and pass them out, but I still didn't know everyone's name. They would look at me and I had to ask "um sorry, what is your name again?". I felt so stupid. And some of the pictures on the badges were really old, so some people didn't even look the same. It was a terrifying experience for someone with an anxiety disorder. My hands shook as I handed out badges and crossed names off the list. One person thought I was from "the new company" and asked if I was the uniform police. Gulping, I nervously answered "no, um, I'm the volunteer coordinator". I felt a panic attack coming on, I really did. I wanted to cry.

I was finally at ease when one of the nurses, Carol, came in to get her badge. I had never met her before. She smiled, introduced herself, and said "Welcome! Hey, you passing out badges is smart! Now you can meet everyone!". She totally changed my perspective. Instead of shaking I began smiling, introducing myself, and starting up conversations. It really did end up working out well, because I began talking to people about my plans as the new volunteer coordinator, and I immediately connected with some of them.

The next week, Carol came in for our team meeting. It was the first meeting where everyone was using a computer instead of paper to do documentation. Because I was one of the only ones fully trained on "the system", since I was trained during my orientation, they had me teaching a lot of the staff on how to use it. (To this day, I am still the go to tech person!). Carol had never used a computer for nursing, and she was pretty nervous. I sat next to her for her entire meeting and helped her type. She kept looking over and saying "thank you for doing this!" and at one point yelled out "gosh this is like 'Driving Miss Daisy!". That is when Carol and I became pals. She didn't know that I was helping her because of how much she had helped me. I mean, I would have helped anyways, but I definitely felt like I was giving back what she had given me- compassion.

So, even though I was left on my own, and even though I was terrified to be handing out those badges to strangers, it worked out. Carol still works here, we are still good friends. She is the sweetest person I've ever known in my entire life. I cannot say enough good things about her. I don't think she'll ever really know how much she helped me on that "reveal day", and continues to help me.

The other example is the time I did a 1/2 Marathon. I wouldn't say I was "left alone", totally. My friends Babz and Holly were doing it with me, but both much faster than I. Holly and I actually did walk together for about 3 miles, but at one point she stopped to pet a dog, I stopped to take off my sweatshirt, and we got separated in the crowd. I didn't see her again until the finish line. It wasn't her fault, it just kind of happened. I knew I'd never be able to find her and catch up, I had to do this thing with me, myself, and I. I also knew if I stopped, I wouldn't be able to keep going.  So I just kept walking. Several times, I thought about stopping. I thought about sitting down right there, waiting for the paramedics to pick me up and drive me to the finish line. It was hot, and although I had trained for months, I was not prepared for the affect the course change between sand and concrete would have on my feet. I could tell my feet were bleeding. On about mile 10, the course is totally uphill, for the next 2-2.5 miles. I really didn't think I could make it. By this time it was really hot, the sun in my face, my feet throbbing. I stopped at one point to get water and ice, and a little girl wearing a Taylor Swift t-shirt handed me my bag of ice. I told her I liked her shirt, and she smiled and said "thanks- keep going!". She gave me the motivation to push. And then I noticed a walker next to me, who had been keeping a similar pace. I decided to walk with her. I introduced myself, and both of us, sweating, huffing and puffing, made it up that hill. I honestly am not sure I would have made it without her. She was my motivation for the last few miles- we were going to finish it! I told her I wanted to jog in, but she was too tired to join me. I rounded the corner and began running, and heard her cheering and screaming my name behind me. That made me run faster. And when I crossed the finish line, my cousin Bonny, who I had not seen in years, was standing there, waiting for me. I had no idea if she was actually going to come, or if we'd be able to find each other if she did. But she was there and gave me a big hug. And that's when I realized I wasn't alone at all. I had my friends, that little girl, my walker buddy, and my cousin, all there for me/with me.

I guess my point in sharing these stories is that sometimes being on your own in something can be scary, overwhelming, and exhausting. But there's a silver lining. You'll learn a lesson, gain strength and confidence, and surprise yourself at what you can accomplish. Maybe someone unexpected will pop in to help, or maybe you really will do it all on your own. But take it all in. It's happening for a reason. Nothing is a coincidence. And, there is a finish line. More than likely, you have people cheering you on, even if you can't see them at the current moment. Just keep going.


Rob-bear said... Add Reply

Terrified or not, you found ways to handle hugely difficult situations. Great for you! Thanks for sharing.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

Kinley Dane said... Add Reply

It must be a volunteer coordinator thing...I often get stuck doing those kinds of jobs! When we transitioned to our new computer system, I was one of the people teaching other staff, and I also am the go to tech person! How remarkably similar our jobs are.

When I was new to my company, I was at our annual holiday dinner (no more of those now!) and was in charge of checking people in. I had the same awful experience of having to ask people's names, because I couldn't remember everyone. I wish I had had a Carol to point out the benefit of it.