Imagine Orlando

Imagine your unbrushed hair tied off into low ponytail, tiny loose pieces flailing around your face as you speed walk down a crowded airport. Meanwhile, your glasses are slowly sliding down your nose. Your hands are full. You’re on one hour of sleep (if that) and you have a plane to catch. It’s 5:00 in the morning….you’ve only been on a plane twice before this. The two times you have you’ve never had to use a bag check. You have two you need to check it this time. You’re going to a new place for a national convention that you’re scheduled to work. This will be your first week of work for your new job.

That was me a few weeks ago. As I (in the least graceful way) walked my bags into the airport that morning, I had to say a little thank you. I have the most amazing friends. My friend Devin dropped me off just in time for me to board my flight at 5:30 am, my bags weighed under 50 pounds and I somehow made it to the airport that day because of these wonderful people (Shoutout to Audrey, Devin, and Matt). I wandered through the airport that morning, extremely confused. I had to ask the bag check lady a few question. I had no idea where to use my TSA letter. This is going to be a fun year, I thought to myself. I slept on the plane and woke up about an hour and a half later to the sun peaking out above the clouds that were under me. It was beautifully red. I watched it rise and light up the entire left side of the inside of the plane. Others closed the windows beside them because the light was so bright, meanwhile I couldn’t stop starring. I finally detracted my eyes from the beautiful red bulb and noticed a small bag of “plane cookies” on the seat to my right where no one had sat. The flight attendant had left them there for me while I was sleeping. Nutritious breakfast that morning.

As the plane landed, I found the company of the people around me to be very helpful. The crowd unintentionally directed me where to go and I followed. I made my way to a train. I remember boarding this same train a few years back. My friend Maddie took me on a trip to Disney. It was my first time flying. The train took me to the baggage claim. I found my black and blue bags with hot pink tags and walked them to the bathroom. I was still in a t-shirt and leggings from the night before and I needed to change into something for work. My first official day of working for the sorority would start as soon as I checked into the hotel so I had to look a little presentable. I arrived at the hotel, checked in and made my way to the room. One of my roommates for the week had already arrived, we grabbed some lunch, she showed me the bathroom mirror (which had a built in TV), she took a snapchat of my enthusiasm for the mirror and then we made our way to our “office” for the week.

On our first day, we set up for the national convention and talked about the plans staff had for the rest of the week. The week was not what I expected. I had never attended national convention so I had no idea what the event was going to be like, let alone what working it was going to entail. My stomach was in knots from all the stress of not sleeping the first few days…and the food. The mornings were early but it was well worth it. The community of people I met at this convention was unique. People I’ve never met knew my name. We were the “new leadership consultants”. I got advice from past women who have taken on this position and they all roughly said the same thing. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s also an incredible experience, you learn so much about yourself”. I think this week alone I could say this is already true.

During the convention all of the leadership consultants (LCs) were assigned a room. We were asked to give introductions for the speakers who were presenting workshops. My room hosted a “self confidence” workshop. As I read over the script before I spoke, I saw that one of the woman’s names was Aly. She had graduated from the University of Central Missouri. I looked at her and said, “Hey! I graduated from UCM too!” She then proceeded to hug me. She smiled and told me that she didn’t even realize I was from the same chapter as her. Later that week she texted all of the women who were at the national convention from the University of Central Missouri. She wanted a picture with all of us. She told us to save her number; if any of us ever needed her she would be there.

Aubrey, another girl from my chapter who was an LC last year, gave me a small sticker to put on my name tag during registration. She did the same for my friend Ellie. Ellie is also from UCM and is an LC with me. I asked someone what it was for and they told me she had donated money in our names. I could go on, but these are the types of people that I met this week. It was people who supported and loved, simply because of the connection they had over the sorority. It was surprising. I didn’t deserve this I thought…and then I heard someone named Glennon Doyle speak. She spoke about her life. She talked over owning your beauty and falling down hard but getting back up. She talked about faith. She talked about love. She wasn’t the only one. I heard talks about about simplicity and new perspectives on how to treat others and yourself. I realized this common connection wasn’t about anything more than a value. A common value. I listened to a speaker from Special Olympics speak about what Alpha Sigma Alpha had done for them, and I saw people giving incredible amounts of support to this organization, because they saw the incredible value in it.

People that I had known for a just a few days, were more willing to accept and support me than some people I have known for years. We said grace before meals, we went to Ben and Jerry’s on our day off, and we laid out in the sun. I’m on my way to the Rainforest Cafe now to have dinner with the other leadership consultants and we fly out tomorrow morning to start the rest of the summer I’m Indianapolis. The “new squad” is a good bunch. We’ve planned to cook a pancake dinner sometime in the near future in our new hotel. I told them about the climbing gym I joined and I’ve already gotten half of them to climb with me. Aerial yoga is next.. a few of them are down to try it. I’ll keep you all posted on how the pancakes turn out. Happy Friday people ✌️

- Michelle

(7/22/16) Blog 3-IMAGINE ORLANDO

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