I quickly pull my dress back on, cover as much of the busted zipper as I can with my sweater, bunch the fabric to my waist, kick off my heels and run to the elevator. I run through the building –barefoot– back to my office, to the fashion
closet, where a bin of safety pins sit atop a trunk like they were waiting for me.
I snatch up the box and run back through the office to find someone, anyone. I spot a woman toiling away in the research department, a friend, no less. I blurt out what happened and she runs behind me to the bathroom to pin my dress together.
She fixes me to decency, promising all along, “It’’ll be fine. I got it. It will be fine.” She means the dress and my presentation. When I’m fixed, I hug her tight and thank her profusely. Instead of telling me ‘you’re welcome,” she yells, “Go! Go!” and shoos me out of the bathroom.
I run back to the conference room. Barefoot.
Just before I open the door, I slip back into my heels. I walk in as dignified as possible, and take a seat. I’m flustered, thrown off in a bad way. I don’t even know if my C-game is accessible right now, much less my A. I grab a napkin from table and dab at my sweating brow. I’ve been told by the higher ups that we’re not being judged, but I know an opportunity to make a good impression is upon me. I have to do a good job. I have to.
When my name is called to go to the mic, I vow to give this presentation my best. I’m going for broke. I don’t have a choice.
I came with my A game.
I was in my zone. You know how sometimes you just know you’re on point? You’re rhythm and flow are just right? That was me up there at the mic. Experts say the best way to do well is to envision your success. In all those times I rehearsed my presentation, I didn’t see this.
As soon as I take my seat and settle my nerves (and wipe my brow. I felt like I was having a hot flash up there), I realize I couldn’t have ever done this well if the zipper hadn’t popped. That adrenalin rush, that moment on the ropes was what I needed to realize the stakes and just how much they meant to me. I am built for this after all.
When the presentations wrap, my boss’s boss explains that the point of today’s presentations was to teach us how to perform under pressure. The higher ups wanted to see what we were capable of. They wanted us to see what we were capable of. The lessons learned today will take us far in life, she tells us.
It was a test.
Life is a series of them.
Today, I passed.