It was an event to which I had been looking forward for over a month. The coming together of women—their entrepreneurial spirits radiating like the warm glow of the Northern Lights—was to be a welcome respite from the dispirited energy that has infiltrated our lives in a few short weeks. On Saturday morning, I was ready. I was set to walk into the event, be enveloped in cordiality and feel a sense of simpatico with the other kindred spirits in the room.
I entered the space. In that moment, my heart sank a little. I was greeted with a sea of tables, twenty or so, ‘manned’ by women and their plethora of products on display for all to see. “Come, look, touch, buy,” was the message they conveyed. Was this what I had signed up for? An estrogen-fueled marketplace writhing with the kinetic energy that comes from an all-female collective? That’s not what I expected. I had assumed . . .
And there it was, that one poisonous word that has the unmitigated capacity to topple the most rock-solid thoughts into fragmented splinters: assumed.
It matters little what my assumptions were. I had allowed myself to be held captive by things that, in my head, were reality. Upon stepping into that room, my experience was colored by the cloak of negativity in my mind. And so, I was prepared to not have a good time. I made my way to the very back of the room and sulked. I sent a text message to a friend who was supposed to meet me at the affair.
“Just arrived. It’s not quite what I expected,” I tapped out to her with my right index finger. “Are you here?” I continued. I didn’t see her in the room, but perhaps she was in the back. “If not…you may want to skip it.”
My selfishness was showing. My assumptions—the ones I had built up in my mind—were about to ruin what could be a wonderful experience for someone else. I was too focused on myself and what I thought.
Twenty-five minutes later, a pivotal shift took place. As I sat at the rear of the room, my bottom teetering on the edge of the too soft sofa cushion, I listened. One after the other, these women stood up, smoothed their wrinkled clothing, walked to the front of the room and shared their stories. Collectively, they had overcome a multitude of hurdles—a triple bypass, the death of loved ones, domestic abuse and more—and they made the decision to march forward in life. Their lives were not ruled by assumptions but rather their passions to do better, be better and continue to rise.
In this room teeming with women, there was no competition, no judgment, no bias. There were only women willing to reach out and help one another. They were there to encourage, to inspire and to empower. Now that’s the kind of food I needed for my soul. And my funky attitude nearly upended my blessing.
What’s a woman blindly guided by false supposition to do?
Assumptions are like a funnel. In the beginning, our thoughts are open and accepting and we welcome the various stances or ideas as they are presented. However, in no time at all, as views flow into the funnel we gradually narrow our position, fixating on what we believe to be the truth, even though that perceived truth may be devoid of facts.
I took my imagined facts—my perception of what I thought the event would be like—and I ran with them. Shame on me.
When my friend finally arrived (despite my cautionary text), I offered her my apologies. I had no right to impose my pessimism on her. “I’m turning my negative attitude around and taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity,” I said, somewhat ashamed of my earlier behavior.
In the end, we both had an uplifting time, we met many empowered, smart and grounded women, and we walked away from the experience with our own renewed spirits.
I am not above learning life lessons that come from the teachings of others. But sometimes, I need to learn from my own mistakes. Self-correction is about recognizing when things go wrong and turning it around of our own volition. On that chilly Saturday afternoon, I made a conscious decision not to be steeped in the muck and mire of negativity and, in the process, learned a valuable lesson.
You know what they say about when you assume . . .
What has been your experience with assuming too much? Do you practice self-correction in your life?