It amazes me that it’s been more than two years since my aneurysm rupture, I still have victories. Today’s was a simple interview with WLTX about the new Midlands Green Business program. Everything clicked. I felt poised, my voice felt clear and strong, and I had more natural vocal range and facial expressions. You may say, okay, what’s the big deal about that? You’ve done interviews for years. This one was different though, and it was the single biggest personal victory for me since I’ve been back.
It was two years ago this weekend that I packed my bags at Shepherd Center and headed back to Columbia. Throughout my stay, my neuropsychologist speculated there were some deficits related to my “executive functioning” aka the set of skills that helps you get things done. I took a neuropsych exam before I left, and a few weeks later, got the results. They were good, and there was no further mention of loss of executive functioning abilities. As far as I was concerned, I was a-okay.
Those early days back at work are hazy. I came back a little at a time, starting at a few hours a day, a few days a week. I gradually increased the days and the hours. It took me a while to get my groove back, and some days were good, others not so much. But I felt prepared to do my job as I had before.
Sometime before I came back full time, around August or September, I was scheduled to do an interview for City Access TV/Channel Two to promote the Green is Good for Business Conference. I asked my colleague, Samantha, to come with me because she had stepped in to help organize the conference in my absence. I planned to discuss green business from a big picture standpoint, and she could fill in the details that she had been working on daily with the committee.
Let me start by saying that throughout my career, I’ve never really had to prepare for interviews before; things came very naturally to me. So imagine my surprise when we suited up for the interview and I drew a complete and total blank. I said something, but it was awkward and ugly. Thankfully Sam was there and jumped right in, saving the day. I was crushed. I clearly remember walking back to the car and texting a friend that the aneurysm had stolen my ability to do an interview, that I could no longer be a spokesperson. It’s not like all I do in my job are interviews, but I lost confidence in myself, and it impacted nearly everything I did.
I’ve avoided media interviews since then, and when I can, I’ve steered reporters in another direction. When I’ve had to do them, I prepare extensively, take cheat sheets and always made sure I had a partner/back up. They were stressful, subpar and frankly, a little painful. I’ve survived a couple since that horrible interview about the conference, but I’ve not felt good about any of them. Until today.
I’m not sure what was different. Maybe it’s the timing. Or my attitude. Possibly a blessing. Whatever I was, I feel great about it.