I'm a Virgo. If you know us, we're all about planning and organization. So, mark my record unblemished when it comes to never forgetting to pack an item or missing a flight. That almost changed today and, in the process, it's changing me. Having left my home in sufficient time, I was mortified when I jumped on the main highway out of my city and all four lanes were at a standstill. Foregoing my natural reaction to panic and become frustrated, I focused on the victims involved in the accident instead (having counted five emergency vehicles heading in their direction), and reminded myself that their ordeal was far more serious than mine. I kept the faith that traffic would soon move, but I was ready to accept defeat. In fact, after :30 minutes of not much progress, I was already searching for the number to US Airways to inquire about other available flights heading to Sarasota, Florida. But something in me stopped myself and I said, "Erica, don't give up. Just keep going. You can make it." And so traffic opened up and I was on my way. I picked up speed, regained some hope, but it would not be long before I was back in stand-still traffic on another major highway and, again, the doubt crept in and I felt defeat hovering. This back-and-forth conflict on the highway and in my mind would continue for several more miles, down another major highway, and inside the airport parking garage but, ultimately, I had made it! Or so I thought.
Reaching check-in, I was informed that I was FIVE minutes too late to make my flight. Not literally, but according to the system that requires you to check in :30 minutes before flight time. Asking what could they do for me, the kiosk agent simply replied "nothing" and that I'd need to book another flight at the main ticketing counter. Having fought against defeat for an hour before, I truly felt it was time to give up hope. But again there was some, unrecognizable tiny fire in me that kept whispering "keep trying"; there was something in me that wouldn't allow me to accept "no." I took that tiny hope to the main ticketing counter and assured the agent there was something she could do. She said there was not and instead began looking at other flights for me--even flights out of other nearby airports. But I couldn't accept her consolation either. I wanted--needed--to be on my flight. It was as simple as that.
Seeing that I wasn't ready to acquiesce, the agent gave me a boarding pass for a later flight but suggested I use it to get through security in an attempt to make my original flight. At this point, it was 8:37 a.m.; my flight was departing at 8:45. And, yet, I kept pushing: past the boarding agent and through security (although three TSA agents told me I would not make it, and further complicated matters by re-scanning one of my carry-on items). One agent even informed me that he was sure the airplane door was already closed by then so trying to make it was pointless. Starting to finally accept I had done the best I could, even I had slowed my pace when putting back on my shoes and coat, my mind already beginning to settle on the fact that I would have to return home and try to depart later. But that tiny spark of hope was STILL flickering ever so faintly and, so, I picked up my pace and headed to Gate 29 anyway. As I rounded the corner, the boarding area was completely empty--but flight 3346 was still sitting on the tarmac! I asked the boarding area agent about the flight and told her I was supposed to be on it but was told it was simply too late to board it.
"That flight behind me?" she asked, looking over her shoulder and out of the window.
"Yes!" I replied.
"It's still fueling," she stated matter of factly.
"Does that mean there's a possibility I can get on it?" I asked in desperation.
"Hold on," she nonchalantly replied while dialing the ramp agent.
I felt my hope growing.
"Hey. I have Ms. Kennedy up here. She's supposed to be on that flight. Uh huh. Yeah. Okay. I'm sending her down."
And with that, the agent told me to follow her, popped the gate door, and down the ramp I went! My bag was gate checked and I was told to take any available seat. Ten minutes later, I was in the air.
After I caught my breath and gathered myself on what turned out to be a super smooth flight, I could not overlook the fact that at any one of those numerous "roadblocks" from the traffic jams to the security gate hold up, I could have simply given up. That at any time someone's "no" could have become my "okay." That if I simply would have stopped pushing, my outcome--and even destination (as one alternative was to fly me into Tampa)--would have been completely different. Which begged a deeper question about our destinations in life when it comes to going for what we want. Are we settling too quick? Allowing others to direct our course? Accepting "no's" too easily? Giving up mid stream? Whatever it may be, I was reminded today that what separates the "haves" and "have nots" often times is simply resilience and not accepting defeat.
Have you applied for that dream job but got no response? Apply again! Competed in an event and lost? Compete again! Denied a loan for that business you've always wanted to start? Ask a different lender! Started school but dropped out? Re-enroll! Whatever your dream is; whatever it is you want, go for it and don't quit! In the words of author Harriet Beecher Stowe, "Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn." I learned that today in the simplest of ways and was grateful for the reminder! So to you, I say be bold. Be brazen. Be steadfast and unmovable. And remember to go for what you want as if your life depended on it because, ultimately, it does! For our destiny lies in the palm of our hands and in the power of our persistence!