This past week I was living the fast-paced, jet-setting lifestyle of a business mogul. Just kidding, I went on a business trip to Orange County for an insurance seminar. I think I prefer the first sentence, though. I work in the ever-changing, creative, innovative, definitely not full of old grumpy men, world of insurance and this week the world of insurance was located in Orange County, California. But jokes aside, I actually love my job. The people are sweet and the work is just challenging enough to make me feel like a genius math savant. It’s a good boost for my ego, because math has never been my strong suit so I always feel extra accomplished at the end of the day because my job is pretty analytical and number oriented. I digress.
I was in Orange County for this three day long seminar about problem solving and how to accept change in the workplace. My company is looking to change some of the ways we do our daily work and wanted to give us some extra training on how some these changes would look and how to better accept them. But I got a lot more out of the trip than just tips on problem solving, I kind of already knew how to do that.
What I got out of this trip was traveling confidence. Up till this point in my life I have not had a lot of experience traveling cross country, so when I started my job the travel was a huge shock. I had lived for the past five years in San Francisco and fancied myself an adventurer extraordinaire. I could figure my way around the city with ease.
I could fearlessly hop on a bus, switch buses two more times, walk in the middle of the Tenderloin by myself, in the middle of the night and not bat an eyelash. I thought I was about as brave as they come: an independent strong city girl, but when I started my new job I had to tackle a new kind of travel: flight.
I had not been on a plane since I was ten, which was pre-nine eleven. So I knew a lot had changed and I had a lot to learn. I didn’t know how to travel that way and suddenly I had to do a lot of it. It seemed like for a period of time, while I was training for my job, I was flying across the country every other week, and I could not have been more of a nervous wreck. Running through the airport, tripping on my own luggage every other step, I must have looked like a frightened newborn fawn still working on my travel legs. I couldn’t have felt more vulnerable. I was a hot steppin’ city girl that knew how to maneuver the rough streets of San Francisco, yet here I was unable to figure out how to even check my luggage.
It has been a couple months since this very stressful time in my life and I have had some really good travel experiences and I have had some very bad ones, but they have all been for the
better. Every trip I get more comfortable with the airports: the lingo of the departure board, the rhythm of the TSA, the loud hum of the aircraft outside the jet bridge, the tight squeeze of the aisles. But this trip I finally felt at home. I strutted through the airport at 6 o’clock in the morning with confidence, like a fashion model. Granted I was flying out of Oakland airport, which kind of looks like a Fisher Price toy compared to the larger airports like SFO or LAX, but none the less it was a Fisher Price toy that I had
conquered. I sashayed through the TSA check-point with ease, found my gate and even bought a coffee while I waited for my plane. I felt like a fancy business woman heading off to my business trip instead of that scared newborn travel fawn that I had known so well a couple of months ago. The rest of the trip pretty much mirrored this newly confident travel experience. The hotel was beautiful, the seminar was informative, I even got to go to downtown Disney and enjoy dinner on one of my nights off. The whole experience was better than I could have imagined. Even the flight home was pleasant. And as I got off the plane, after returning home, I couldn’t help but get sappy and think of how grateful I was for this trip and how far I had come. This was exactly what I had needed. I was so grateful for the ease of it, the lack of anxiety, the lack of uncertainty and doubt that I had felt on so many of those other trips before. I’m not sure I am quite there yet, but maybe some day I really will be that jet-setting business mogul in that first sentence.