“What miracle has made you the way you are?”
On Thursday, I had the administrative assistant version of a day from hell.
Remember how I talked about the changes in the office that resulted in our office being comprised of me and our two new-hires?
On Thursday, the new-hires both had all-day HR training. Which meant that for the day, the faculty support office was . . . me.
The ironic part is that the absence of the new-hires had virtually nothing to do with the day being out of control. All of the craziness came from people and programs that I already support.
And we are talking about the kind of craziness that has me on the phone making hotel reservations while a frantic professor with no internet tries to send an e-mail from my computer, and someone else is trying to call me on the other line, while a staff person is standing on the other side of my cubicle waiting to talk to me about something or other, and another professor is e-mailing me about contacting a student who never submitted their assignment, and then the people working in the suite at the other end of the hallway keep sending me print jobs because their suite printer happened to break down on this particular day. Meanwhile, another professor is sitting in my cubicle having a sit-down chat with me about room reservations and concocting an entire complicated plan which I have to enact so that they can get the rooms they want. Another professor needs help figuring out a function in Word, a publishing rep is making the rounds and keeps stopping by my desk, a professor needs help sorting out a discrepancy with their budget statement, and every time I print something out for the suite at the other end of the hallway, I have to walk it over to them.
So then, in the middle of all of this madness (and what I’ve described above is merely a cross-section of the whole enchilada), I found a fortune cookie in my purse, and this was my fortune:
I MEAN, REALLY. THE NERVE OF THAT FORTUNE COOKIE.
Nevertheless, the day proved to be very enlightening.
See, I had the satisfaction of making it through the entire day without losing my cool. And not just in a “I’m holding it together but barely and everyone knows I’m stressed” kind of way. I mean, I went through this day exuding cheerfulness, warmth, and sociability, whether that meant joking with my professors, commiserating with other staff members, making conversation in the break room, taking a few minutes to hear about a colleague’s recent trip abroad, catching up with my student worker, or even just welcoming every request with a smile, regardless of how difficult or inconvenient it was.
And then I had an epiphany toward the end of the day.
I realized that, underneath all of the depression and insecurity and anxiety, I’m actually a really happy, friendly, caring person who likes to be with other people, take care of other people, and do whatever I can to make everyone else’s day that much better.
I had forgotten those things about myself.
It was like I suddenly remembered who I really was, and I was proud of that person . . . I was proud of being myself.
On Friday morning, I soothed a frantic, sleep-deprived professor who was stressing out about getting an assignment back to her students that day and who was worried that I wouldn’t have time to help her because of multiple competing projects. I told her not to worry. I assured her that I would take care of it, that everyone’s projects would be completed in the time frame they had requested, and it would all be fine. And I was able to say that to her with complete sincerity, because I knew of myself that I would be able to follow through with that promise, because that’s just part of who I am.
As I was calmly assuring her that everything was going to be okay, she looked at me incredulously and said, “What miracle has made you the way you are?”
She was quoting a line from Gigi, but still. In terms of amusing compliments that I’ve received since working here, it was up there with the time one of my colleagues told me that I’m one of the nicest people they’ve ever met, and with being compared to Schrödinger’s cat.
It’s moments like these that remind and reassure me that underneath all of the hard stuff and all of the ways that I feel like I’m not doing enough or just doing everything wrong . . . God isn’t finished with me; he’s doing something with my life, and he is bringing good out of it, even when it doesn’t feel that way or when it’s not what I expected to be doing with my life. When it feels like I’m not going anywhere, I’m still going somewhere.