July 2008

I picked out an outfit days in advance to wear for my big presentation. Black. Knee-length. Ruffles. Professional, but festive. It makes me feel pretty and confident. In it, I can conquer the world.

All weekend, I stress about this presentation. It’s a last minute assignment, but I can’t think of anything better.

Monday morning, I put on the dress. I’m marching around the house and I’m almost out the door when the zipper breaks apart.

Shit!

I snatch it off and try to fix it. I don’t have a back up outfit planned and it will take me an hour to pick out something that I find equally fabulous and appropriate. I remember that this happens to my favorite piece of luggage all the time and I’m always able to fix it with no problem. I’m nice with this.

I tug gently at the dress’s zipper and slowly but surely, it works. I put he dress back on and leave for work.

Six hours later

All morning, I’ve been listening to presentations from all of the top brass. I’m wide-awake and engaged. I love where I work and what I do. I pay attention because I genuinely care about its success and my success here. I’m also the only junior staffer scheduled to present. I’ve noticed everyone who gets a chance to shine here has great public speaking skills. This is my chance to show that I can shine too.

It’s 10 minutes to go before my boss is set to present. She’ll talk, then throw off the mic, the metaphoric baton, to me. My nerves finally catch up to me and I shift in my seat. I feel the zipper ripping apart. It’s like in slow motion, but it happens quite fast.

The impending doom Michael Imperioli once descried descends upon me. I snatch my dress together and carefully exit the room, clutching the fabric to my hip. In the bathroom stall, I yank off my dress, and tug at the zipper the same way I did this morning. Nothing. I have to fix my dress. I have to fix my dress!!

I tug and yank.

The zipper pops.

Oh, fuck me.

I stand there for a moment in shock, then self-pity. This is my life. I am a walking dramadey, except this time it’s drama and tragedy, not drama and comedy. It’s fun to write about these things. In retrospect, they make for entertaining stories. But this here isn’t story time. It’s reality and my boss, my boss’s bosses and all of my co-workers are in the next room. In 15 minutes they will be expecting me to present. And there’s no way I can.

I stare at my broken zipper thinking of all the hours of prep I put into this project that have just busted apart. I spent every free moment Saturday and Sunday working on my presentation. It had shaped up to be really good.

And now this. All that work was all in vain. Maybe I’m not meant to succeed. Maybe trying my best isn’t good enough.

Tears well up in my eyes in the bathroom stall. I try to think of a Plan B. I’m blank. I’m out of steam. I wonder what I’m going to do since I’m not built to roll-with-the-punches, since I come apart at the seams–literally– under pressure. Maybe I can’t handle the pressure after all. If this job isn’t going to work out, I have to have a back up plan.

But there’s never been one. I only had one dream.

This is it.

I have to woman up! I don’t have a choice.

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  • Jess

    Damn, glad to hear that it’s not just me–feels like something unexpected comes up all of the time. I have often called my life a “comedy of errors.” Though not often funny, these constant challenges require me to prove who I am, what I am made of. Somehow, each time, I manage to rise to the challenge, and endure under pressure with grace. Thank You God.

  • Lady P

    I can totally relate to this situation. I can recall that dreaded moment when I had my first interview with a well-respected consulting firm. I was already extremely nervous. It became worse when I spilled tea on my white blouse. Since it was obvious, I knew I had to woman-up and think of something clever to say. During the interview, I smiled and said, “You guys have great tea.” It was light humor, but they were able to relate. Needless to say, I won them over.

  • The Comment

    At least you kept your cool. I admire people who can keep their cool although they are having a mini nervous breakdown inside.

  • Cree

    Woooow. Amazing story. What a twist that they said that at the end, without even knowing about your zipper issue!!

    Great piece. Girl, you had my heart pumping! Lol. That woman who helped you is awesome.

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