What an overwhelming experience.
There was barely any time to explore; we took one walk and pretty much stayed within a 10km radius. Too much reading, testing, and meeting to do anything else. It felt like the time went flying by, yet dragged on, the longer I was from home.
As an introvert, you fall back on memories and past experiences, and it drives reflection and re-evaluation.
I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t affect me. I learned more about myself in the last two weeks than I did in the last year, and I’ll be writing about it for weeks, if not months.
A Change of Personalities
It was the people who had the most impact on me. There were the ones in my little clique, a group of client specialists in training. All confident, extroverted, empathetic people. There was much to admire in them.
Then there was the upper echelon. Vice-presidents, lab presidents, big-wigs who spoke with weight in their words. You thank them for taking you to dinner, and they thank you in turn by telling you that your company was a pleasure. It was inspiring to observe how effortlessly they carry themselves with grace and charisma.
There was one in particular, the national sales manager, a true gentleman about 60, who really stood out. At first, he was the most intimidating person there; one of those executives whose time is worth gold. His wingtips were always polished to the point of reflection (“you have to sell yourself before you can sell your product”, he would say).
“What kind of business are we in, Jeff?”
“An annuity business.”
“BINGO!”, and he’d put his fist out for me to tap.
Maybe it was because I was by far the youngest in the class. He had the ability connect with anyone, regardless of their age, experience, or status. He didn’t just teach us about personal empathy, he lived it. At the very end, I had the pleasure of a little one-on-one time with him.
The nicest thing that anyone said to me was that I should go into sales.
He also didn’t know that it’s something that it drains me rather quickly, but it was nice of him to say so.
Another person saw my photos in my screen saver and said that my candid shots captured quintessential moments and emotions. Then he started telling other people about them and showing them off, which was especially complimentary. I inspired him to take up photography, he said, so I gave him a small course on the basics.
A New Friend
There was one person, more than 15 years my senior, with whom I got along especially well, to the point where we were sharing old stories and confidences. Part of it was the fact that I could make him laugh. Humor is usually how I relate to people. While we were waiting at the airport, he thought something I said was so funny that he had to call his friend to tell him right there before he forgot it. He had the confident, people-person energy, and I drew from that. It was only when we traded personal contact info before leaving that I felt as if my trip was complete.
My suitcase was nowhere to be found on the luggage belt at the airport on the way back. I was rerouted because of a bunch of air traffic delays, and the suitcase was misplaced in the process, although they found and delivered it yesterday. My favourite dress-shirts and sweaters were in there, and I was completely depressed when I thought they were lost.
I had a ton of stuff packed in that suitcase — including a beautiful cK toiletries bag that was given to me as a gift, and the perfect DKNY grooming kit I haven’t seen since purchasing it — but I didn’t care about anything else except the shirts and sweaters. It’s frustratingly difficult for me to find ones that fit my style and frame. And when you dress based on mood, losing part of your clothes is like forgetting your favourite memories.