‘The Business Meeting that Ended my Career’

When my husband and I got married, I started working at a corporate financial firm that specialized in payment solutions. I assisted the commercial director and marketing team with event coordinating and key account management. Soon after we got married, my husband asked me to join his company. We run a family business specializing in the manufacture of wall decor items such as artwork, mirrors, wallpaper, etc. I agreed to join him and I headed up the marketing aspect of the business. We eventually started a new division in the company which I solely focused on and I had started to build up quite a client list. I focused on the smaller interior decor projects while he headed up the larger hospitality and procurement companies. We worked well together for the first year and things were going well and then..

the business meeting that ended my career in sales and marketing and crushed my confidence as a working woman and as a woman in general. I’ll never forget this day. I feel like I have somewhat moved on from the trauma of it all but it continues to sit as an art piece on my wall of fame.

I’m laughing as I type this out because I’m not really sure where to start. It’s a nervous giggle rather, at the thoughts that I’m welcoming back into my head. My husband had worked with this specific client before and she had requested that we do a site visit at her newly built guesthouse. We were keen to get the job. So I rocked up there in my smart jacket and heels, carrying a whole bunch of notebooks, floor plans, quotes, laptops and my iPad – ready to tackle her burning questions in one quick karate style movement – except I wasn’t. Her sour demeanor knocked me for a six from the moment I walked in. I politely introduced myself and got a stiff hello in return. As I walked up the stairs, floor plan in hand, I kept fumbling over my papers as her dragon-like eyes and bellowing voice yelled at me to ‘put my stuff down’ – it was a new build so the floor hadn’t been properly sealed yet so I couldn’t just put my stuff down as half the floor area was still covered in wet cement. From there on, she then dragged me from room to room, telling me what artwork and mirrors she wanted on the walls. By the time we had done the first floor, she had already changed her mind 150 thousand times. Indecisiveness was the name of the game here and she had no patience for what may have seemed like my slow attempts at jotting down her ever-changing requests. She reminds me of Cruella de Vil. Her antagonistic and hostile personality was doing very little to encourage my gentle reserved type of personality. She pranced around the room in her high heeled shoes and freshly painted nails and pointed her finger at where she wanted that overly large mirror. At this point, I was so ready to wrap this meeting up and go home. I was nursing a head cold as it was and my sniffing and weak facade didn’t help much either.

After walking floor by floor and room by room, heavy laden with laptop bags and heavy sinus cavities, a gentleman walked in the door and calmly mentioned to me that the next door neighbour was letting the air out of my tyres because I had parked on her pavement. My pressure gauge was in the red and I was about to explode. I ran outside in an attempt to stop the old miserable woman from letting the air out of my tyres. I managed to get there before my tyre was completely flat but I was subjected to a vomit session of words and shouting which I couldn’t completely make sense of. To my blocked eardrums, she sounded like a Maltese Poodle or Jack Russel that wouldn’t stop yapping because they had lost their bone.

And that was it. My pressure gauge had blown. Cruella de Vil and her henchman, Jasper had gotten the better of me. Their tyrannical nature was too much for my snot filled brain and meek phlegmatic personality type. I walked back inside to my client to excuse the ruckus outside and very ashamedly burst into tears. No, no my proudest moment. Cruella’s green lid eyes took one look at me and said, ‘are you crying?’ with a mocking glare. As if she was taunting me with her gestureless face while wounding my soul.

I finished up my meeting as best as I could, climbed into my car praying that it would get me home. I got home, climbed into bed and cried for hours. That was me. Done. My pressure gauge had exploded and there were a million tiny pieces of shattered heart lying all over the floor.

It may not sound like a big deal but my failed attempt at securing a client, and keeping my shizz together in a heavily heated emotional situation totaled my confidence as a woman. My self esteem was shattered and it has taken months to rebuild myself and my confidence to a place of security, free from self loathing.

It’s been 4 years since that episode. I’m a new person today. I’ve found a new confidence in my calling as a mom, and as a homemaker. I still work for our business, just not in that capacity. And I’m okay with that. There are situations in life that help you reevaluate. I took that opportunity, after a few months of sulking, to re-evaluate life and what I wanted from it. I took time to re-evaluate myself and who I was. I came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t some Type A personality type that wore confidence and arrogance like a beaded necklace. There were often times that that’s all I wanted to be. I grappled with who I was, putting myself down at every chance I got. As much as those women were to ‘blame’ for their unhelpful and unfriendly attitudes, I couldn’t stop hating on myself. Words like weak, flaccid, limp and spineless filled my mind and became the resounding voice in my head belittling me even more.

It’s a moment I’m proud to breathe in and remember. A moment that grew my character and developed stamina within my bones. A moment I choose to look back on with learning eyes and ears, ready to grow from it, increase in experience and arise without being stamped as damaged goods.

A year after my unbecoming experience, I became a mom. And motherhood has given me a voiced confidence that flows through my blood. Possibly because I’m fulfilling my God given purpose and calling to be a mama of two, nearly three beautiful souls.

I have a restored confidence and boldness. A somewhat fearlessness as I further embark on my motherhood journey and a deep sense of satisfaction. The realization that I won’t necessarily be great at everything and I’m totally okay with that. I proudly wear my motherhood hat like a garment of flowers on my head.

In the words of Lisa Jo Baker:

It’s easier to believe that courage and calling look bigger and fancier than our Monday afternoon to-do lists. We often think that world changing looks like preachers and teachers, prophets and rock stars, bloggers, poets and politicians, all more qualified than those of us who come behind all bent over with our ordinary and embarrassed by our messy minivans. What if ordinary is heroic? Most world changers wear jeans and tshirts most days and fight fevers more than they make headlines.

Love love love love,

Robynne

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