Checking out the beautiful town of Raleigh in North Carolina for a possible future national library conference location, I have been impressed by the beauty of the land and the people. I have been people watching, talking with anyone I make eye contact with, and keeping an open mind. I had an unexpected day yesterday because I wound up not following the original day’s itinerary. I spent time trying to look at the locations from the perspective of how people coming for a conference might react to – different situations, conference venues, local places to visit and eat, and the people of Raleigh. One of the first questions I was asked was ‘what are the top 3 things you need in a conference venue’? I thought I had the answer. But by the end of the day, I changed it. The most important thing is being able to offer opportunities – for networking, for learning, for eating, and for seeing local sites. The best way to offer opportunities is to look at the venues from a practical point of view – transportation, technology, and togetherness. One thing I can’t foresee is how people will react to the conference venue. In the bigger picture, I find myself reflecting if people realize how vital one’s perspective is in everything we do.
This morning I was in the hotel pool. It was very early, the pool was cold, there were kids jumping around me (with oblivious parents chatting in a corner), and I was attempting to do some water walking. By the third time one of the girls hit into me, I decided to go into the hot tub. The hot tub wasn’t working and wasn’t hot. I was intrigued by a very large bug, seeing it’s the only time I saw a bug that large outside of the zoo. I was studying it until it looked like it was going to jump in the water with me. At that point, I decided it was time to get back to the room. I took a shower, dressed, and went to the restaurant. The staff were swamped with people from one of the conventions at the hotel. Instead of giving me a menu, the hostess assumed I was with the convention group. I suppose I look like I could belong with them, but she didn’t even ask. Are you wondering what the convention was? Ha! You’ll have to ask.
After I returned to the room, I realized I was smiling and humming. None of the things that happened had affected my spirit. And this has me thinking. How did I get here? Though I have friends who would disagree, I wasn’t always this way. People ask me why I seem to always be smiling and comment that I’m a high-energy person. I’m not always smiling and happy. We all have our moments, our days. I don’t know if everyone is this way – but I know I’ve had to work at it. It’s like that concept “fake it until you make it”. And now, I don’t think about it – it’s just how I am.
How do you “fake it until you make it”? I could probably write an article on each bullet point below. But, as an overview, here are some practical tips:
- Don’t take things personally or to heart. I like to think people are so wrapped up in their own little worlds that they forget there are people around them. When someone seems to be having a hard time, pause and smile.
- If you have a negative thought, stop it. You don’t need to replace it with a positive thought, though I know people who do this. I believe we should allow the thought because we should accept ourselves fully and negative thoughts are part of that. Just stop yourself so you don’t allow the negative thought to continue.
- Replace your assumptions. I find we make assumptions about people and their behaviors. Try to think of things from another perspective.
- Have empathy and compassion. Listening and putting your point of view aside can go a long way in helping a person out.
- Feel your feels and move on. It’s okay to feel whatever you are feeling. But don’t let it take over.
- Life can get overwhelming. There’s so much more to do, see, and be. Remember this is only a moment in your life. But every moment is precious – so make it count.
- Be reflective. There’s always room to improve.
While here in Raleigh, I have met some wonderful people. I had made some assumptions before traveling here. I assumed being in the South that people would all have a strong accent, be a little more uptight, and be slower. Instead, I have felt welcomed. People are kind, I haven’t heard one “ya’ll”, and I’ve not run over anyone. I have so many stories in my head about the people of Raleigh and I’m smiling. I have enjoyed getting to know people, laughing, and sharing. Some people have touched my soul in ways they may not understand. And I believe I’ve left my imprint upon them. I look forward to my future return.
~I’m Here To Help
P.S. I have many funny stories about my trip and flight into Raleigh. I started talking at 3:30am when my taxi driver picked me up. I spoke to no less than 20 people who helped me out at the airport. Waiting for my flight, I helped an older foreign man. He was walking around observing people then approached me, showed me a phone number on the scratch piece of paper he was clutching, and asked if I would call his daughter to let her know he made it to the gate. If you see me, ask me to act out that scene for you. I’m still chuckling.
I flew on United Airlines. It was my first flight alone. I thought I was going to be a bundle of nerves. Instead, I was so excited that I caught myself grinning from ear to ear. The flight crew were nice and courteous. At one point, I was getting self-conscious because I saw the flight attendants whispering and smiling at me. I thought they were talking about my walking boot being in the aisle where they walked. Instead, they approached me and told me to look around at the other people. I turned to look and saw that everyone appeared to be asleep. The attendants said they loved my energy because I was smiling and alert and they could tell I was just soaking the experience in.