From time to time someone’s emotional outburst will bring me back to my own eruptions. One that stands out was a day at the office. It was my first office job. I was in my late teens, and I had been at this small computer training company for about nine months. We were fast approaching a deadline—I was snappy and on edge. A meeting was called without notice, so that we could review what still needed to get done. Saman, the boss; Diane, my supervisor; Jenny, the training coordinator; and I, the registrar, were all spread around the conference room table with scattered pages in front of us. We still needed to edit and finalize the training schedule before it went to print and was distributed to clients in time to fill the classes. We were behind, and as I sat there in the conference room, I began feeling my stress levels rise. I saw their mouths moving, but I wasn’t hearing them. I kept nodding my head; and then when I tuned in, what I was hearing, was making me feel overwhelmed. I felt like a teapot that would go off any moment. What I remember saying next is, “no I cant do it!” I stood up, frozen, yet walked briskly to my desk to fetch my purse. I quickly ran to the elevator, trying to keep back the tears. As the elevator doors began to close on Diane’s words, “Rebbecca, come back,” I was fixed on her bewildered expression, but I let the doors close.
As I got out of the elevator in search of my car in the parking garage, tears were gushing out. My cries now hiccups, I could feel the heat on my cheeks. I fumble with my car keys, jam them into the ignition, and exit the garage on my way home. Many thoughts circle my mind: “What have I done!, I don’t have a job anymore, what an idiot!” As the self-reprimands stack up, realty begins to settle in, and I really don’t know what will happen next. I couldn’t turn back; I couldn’t face them.
There were times during my teens that I felt I knew it all and had life netted nicely in my grasp. And even today, it’s at these moments, when I hear my “other” older brother telling me, “You better watch out, kid. One day, you’re gonna have a rude awakening.” When he used to tell me that, I scoffed at him. And I would sass back, “what the hell is a rude awakening, anyway!?”
The most important lesson I took from this episode, that still sticks with me today, is that I really needed to find a constructive way to deal with my pent up stress and the emotions that follow close behind. I also learned about second chances and forgiveness. That same afternoon, Diane phoned me at home and asked me to please come back to work, so we could talk about what happened. She was very kind and didn’t show any disappointment in her voice. I agreed, and was so thankful that I still had a job. When I arrived back at work, Diane and I gave each other a big hug and looked into each other’s eyes and I saw the wet on her eyes that mirrored my own. I still hold this event close to me and am grateful and humbled every time I think about it and the many other ways it could have turned out.