The first couple of years on my walk I was put through a rigorous program that resulted in me letting go of my expectations of people. I started dealing with people in the moment we were in. I didn’t tie them to my future even though some past event lead to a present moment.
I essentially learned not to expect anything from anyone. Expectation leads to disappointment…and I was beyond tired of being disappointed.
A couple of weeks ago, my manager received a high honor in her field from her peers. I wasn’t going to attend the awards dinner because she had not indicated that I should be there – I’m her assistant, after all, and I had to forward her invite list to the planning committee. I had worked as a conduit of information for the event planners and had been available to assist with any loose ends. But it wasn’t an event I was spearheading, as it was a non-profit fundraiser, so I didn’t see any purpose or use for my presence at the event itself.
Throughout the workday the day of the event, at least five colleagues mentioned either that they would see me later at the dinner or they asked if I would be there. My response to each was, “I wasn’t invited.”
Fifteen minutes before the cocktail hour started, I received the final comment hinting at the presumption of my presence at the dinner honoring my boss. Suddenly, I got nervous. Was I supposed to be at this event? I emailed my boss that question. She didn’t reply. Within seconds, I was putting on a face of make-up and packing up my bag. A couple of minutes later I was rushing onto Park Avenue to hail taxi for a mad dash down to Tribeca.
I was frantic by the time I rushed into the reception… and I’m known for keeping my cool under pressure.
For the most part, I thought of this dinner as just another dinner event my Boss Lady was attending. Even though she was one of the honorees, she hadn’t expressed any particular excitement for the event so I approached it like any other event I handle for her: if I’m needed, I’ll be there; if not, I won’t.
On the taxi ride over, I berated myself for letting our communication lag. I had no idea what she was thinking because we had barely talked in months. I was dealing with my life; she was dealing with hers. The one thing that assured me I was right to rush downtown to the dinner was remembering: “When has she not wanted me to be where she is?” She prefers my presence. I have always known that. I have never doubted it.
Her widening smile told me I was right to be nervous… and right to be there.
As I left her to her guests, I breathed a sigh of relief for the inkling and nervousness that got me out of my seat and downtown to her side.
The first colleague to ask me that morning if I would be at the dinner that night approached me as I crossed the dining area. “I thought you weren’t coming!”
I explained the succession of people who hinted by their presumption that I should be present and she replied simply, “LaShawnda, some things are just expected.”
That floored me for a second. Another full circle in my life. I went through years of stripping myself of expectations and ridding others of any dependency on me only to come to a point of anxiousness at the thought that I would disappoint Boss Lady by not showing up.
Today’s lesson: Sometimes your presence is all that’s needed. More than words. More than service. More than a hope for something in the future. Your presence today, right now, is a bigger blessing to those whose eyes have an expectation to rest on you.