Like many of us, I like to think that in a crisis or time of stress I will remain relatively calm, level headed, and able to keep my wits about me. I can function even when there’s chaos.
However, as was demonstrated again today, while that might be true to a large extent, it’s also critical to not take it for granted. I can’t simply say, “Oh, yeah, this is stressful, but I’m good when the shit’s incoming to the fan, so let’s just carry on.” No, the lesson I believe is to recognize the stressful situation for what it is and realize that, while I might do better than average or have had some training for how to prioritize and stay more or less functional in the face of chaos, in such a situation it is critical to be extra careful and aware that I might be on thin ice.
We had an appointment at 10:45. All of a sudden it was moved up to 10:15. There’s a significant amount of stress associated with the whole thing. No worries. I’m cool. Cucumbers name their children after me.
Until I got to the appointment and realized that I didn’t have my phone. Or my glasses. I was out of touch and blind as a bat inside arm’s length distances.
No worries! I have my backup pair of glasses that I ALWAYS carry in my briefcase. Except that they weren’t there. They had gotten moved to my backpack for the Seattle & Kansas City trip and never put back.
A little more flustered, a little less confident, I went for the backup backup pair of glasses – they’re in the backpack too.
The pair that I keep in the van I’m normally driving? I’m sure they’re there, but we were driving Hissy today.
I can live without the phone, right? I had my iPad, after all. Except that the day’s events needed me to be available by phone all day.
So once we got the preliminary events out of the way and I had a break where I needed to just wait for an hour, I instead boogied home (fortunately we were only twenty minutes from our house) and solved the problem.
That part at least felt satisfying. But I’m well aware that it’s a problem that I caused with my own carelessness and stupidity.
Stress can’t be avoided.
Dealing and coping with stress can be learned.
But it doesn’t make you Superman.
If you’re smart, it teaches you to recognize the sound of the ice cracking under your feet and makes you be very, very careful.
Today I wasn’t smart. I was discombobulated.
But I recognized it before it was ultimately too late, and I corrected the problem.
Next time I need to avoid it to begin with.