The Summer That Changed My Life

This year I vow to be more transparent and by doing so, I will be sharing quite a lot of experiences (both good and bad).

DISCLAIMER: Being vulnerable and opening myself up to people outside of my inner circle is something I’m continuously working on. I may be a chatterbox but it’s always around topics I’m most comfortable speaking about. Anything outside of those selected subjects I become mute. Knowing that this is something I’m currently trying to fix, I’ll start by sharing one of the biggest lessons I learned and how it brought me to where I am now.

The summer of 2010, I was in my 4th year of university. Due to changing my major sophomore year, I wasn’t going to be graduating. While my peers were buzzing with the excitement of having President Obama speak at commencement, I was on a plane heading to Cannes to work for a PR firm. Disappointed and frustrated that I wasn’t graduating (due to changing my major sophomore year) with the rest of my peers, I vowed to make this opportunity work for me.

The first few days were overwhelming as I had to quickly adapt to my surroundings, ways of working and come to grasp that our clients were established actors in the industry.  However, this was my moment of truth and there was no room for error.  I was given several assignments and was buzzing with joy after getting glowing feedback from both my boss and the talent. After securing coverage for the much-anticipated yacht press junket, I was beaming with pride.

Excited that I would be able to brush shoulders with the talent and the press, I headed to the dock in anticipation. As cars were turning up one by one, the pier began to flood with a sea of beautifully dressed actors, models, and socialities heading to their designated yachts. Suppressing my excitement from being so close to celebrities such as Woody Allen, Johnny Depp and more, I nervously tugged on my dress as I walked with confidence towards our yacht.

As I got on the boat and showed my credentials to staff, I was quickly pulled aside by a senior colleague who told me I was no longer needed. Shocked and confused by her statement, I assured her that I was granted clearance by our boss; however, she didn’t care.  I could see the expressions on my coworkers face that I was being singled out. In the sea of white faces, I was the anomaly and whatever image she was trying to portray she made quite clear that she didn’t want me to be a part of it.

Forcing myself not to cry, I held my head high and told her I understood as I quickly exited the yacht. To tell you the truth, I don’t even remember the first 5 minutes of my walk back to the office as I tried to maintain my composure. Not only was I publicly humiliated, I was completely devastated. When I got back to the office, the unspoken look on my two bosses faces was everything that I needed to confirm my suspicions.

Feeling the tears well up, I politely excused myself as I raced to the bathroom. Back in the States, my president was congratulating my fellow classmates for navigating their way through uni and here I was in the bathroom of a 5-star hotel in Nice during the Cannes Film Festival crying my eyes out. Trust me, the irony of it all was not lost on me. As I quickly gathered myself together, I prayed for vindication, tolerance, and acceptance. Not wanting to disappoint myself or those back at home who were rooting for me to win, I decided that I would make her eat her words.

Despite the anger that was building inside of me, I walked back into the room with my head held high and began on securing more coverage for another event (that undoubtedly I may be denied entry to it again). As I carried on working, my boss pulled me to the side for a heart-to-heart. She didn’t explicitly confirm the act of her employee but she did mention in a roundabout way that there would be adversities and people who will try to limit your opportunities.

As luck would have it, the clouds opened up and heavy torrential rain started to pour. Only 20 minutes back in the office and news started coming in that press event had to be canceled due to adverse weather. What became a setback turned into a candid conversation with a respected woman in the industry who was able to see that I was able to work hard and maintain my composure under unfavorable circumstances.

What took place the following days was nothing more than magical. I was given several opportunities to shine and boy did that I do that. Long nights in the office reaped its many benefits. From covering press events to dancing and drinking the night away at several industry parties, I had the best time of my life.

The final night and I was physically worn out 

Despite the rejection I faced, it taught me a valuable lesson…

No matter the situation or circumstance, always be your BEST! 

That summer I walked away with the confidence I needed to finish my degree and move to D.C. to work in  PR and marketing. Who knew that two years later I would be securing media coverage for a highly publicised event headlined by President Obama; pitching stories for NPR, Washington Post, The Boston Globe, etc. and covering press events at the Pentagon. If I allowed that no to define my experience out there,  I wouldn’t have stepped out on faith to head back to Europe for a life-changing experience.

As we begin the new year with several expectations and goals in mind, remember to discard any negative experiences you may have brought in or experienced from 2017. Whether it was caused by someone else or yourself, shed those layers of self-doubt and destructive thinking and embrace a positive mindset for a more prosperous and fulfilling new year.


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