I have struggled with low self-worth and marginal self-confidence since moving to Seattle two and a half years ago. I have pulled in a decent paycheck most of my adult life. Now that I am the new girl in a city where I have few friends and a business that is relatively unknown, my income is close to zero. While I am taking excellent care of my family, I am equating my business net worth with my personal self-worth. I know this is the wrong way of looking at it, but that is where my head is.
I was recently asked to attend a $150 per plate (suggested donation) luncheon for the second year. Although this is a hefty sum for my business presently, I accepted. You never know who you will meet and the connections you might make.
My table captain texted me the day of the event telling me she had oversold the table by one and that I would be sitting nearby. I was not bothered because I knew I could make good connections regardless of where I sat. I arrived uncharacteristically early to discover I was still sitting at the table of my original table captain. Great!
I settled in, and I began chatting with each person as they arrived. I was delighted to see a lovely women I met last year. We smiled and waved as I drawled, “Heeeey!!!” from across the table. I was having a wonderful time!
About five minutes before the program was to begin, I noticed a small hubbub off to the side. My table captain and another lady were speaking to each other. Suddenly, my table captain asked me from across the table if I would move so this woman could sit down. I was stunned and embarrassed. I quietly told the gentleman seated to my left I was being asked to move, and I quickly gathered my belongings and vacated the seat.
A Hasty Exit
As I sat one table over in my new seat, I was crushed. I felt tears welling up despite telling myself not to be upset. That’s when I knew I had to leave to avoid making a scene. As discreetly as I could, I left with my $150 check still in my wallet. All the way home, I cried in my car. Later that day at my boutique job, I barely held it together as I shared the story with my co-workers. As I told it to my husband that evening, I bawled like a baby.
It was not Personal
To be made to feel you are not welcomed, not good enough or not important hurts. To be fair to the table captain, her actions were not personal. We barely know each other. She was simply accommodating long-time supporters of the event. However, I was taught to make an extra fuss over the newcomer so they feel the most welcomed.
What I Learned
As an optimist, I look for the lessons in the trials of life. Here are the three things I took away from this difficult day:
- Know your place at the table. You may not be good enough to be at one person’s table, but you sit at the head of your own table. You have the seat of honor at many tables of those who love you. One person’s opinion of you does not define you.
- Keep saying yes. Do not allow one bad experience to send you into hiding. Keep your head up, remain true to yourself and continue to accept invitations that come your way. Keeping your heart open is a vulnerable position, but closing your heart is damaging to you and to those around you.
- Remember the lesson when it’s your turn. My “table captain” moments will be my opportunity to do things well. I hope each person will feel like the most important person in the room.
If one day you are asked to move (either literally or figuratively), do so quietly and gracefully, holding onto the knowledge that you are valuable beyond measure.