Something Just Died in the Living Room

Adulting is running a virtual training like a boss bitch after something just died in the living room.

Let’s back up.

COVID-19 caused millions of businesses and individuals to turn to virtual platforms for learning and development. Video learning in the corporate world is a new standard as we strive to continue “business as usual.” To maintain a training program in a simulated environment, my team needed to teach our Business Trainers how to facilitate virtually.

Like the professional adult I am, I stepped forward and took the lead on accomplishing this training. I spent weeks designing a Zoom course to arm our trainers with the tools they need to successfully transfer knowledge virtually. I crafted a PowerPoint and drafted a script. I built polling questions and collaborated with others to create a seamless training experience that not only teaches skills, but also demonstrates those skills. I wanted the responsibility and I craved the visibility to advance my career. I accepted the work and the stress and was excited to prove myself.

I’m naturally an anxious individual. I’m typically very comfortable speaking in front of a group, but I over-prepare to get to that level of ease. I rehearse every slide, every line of my script, every possible question I may face, and every conceivable technical difficulty scenario the universe could throw at me.

Every scenario, except the one that actually happens.

First, I live in BFE. “Live in the woods!” They said. “It’ll be fun!” They said. Yeah. Until I can’t get a decent internet connection while working from home.

So, knowing I had a big training to execute, I packed up my office and went to my sister’s. Her internet connection is reliable, and I knew that would ease any anxiety I had around dropping off the call.

I rehearsed twice that morning before it was time to train. I had it all blocked out. I knew when I’d glance at my notes and when I’d stare at the webcam to simulate eye contact. I did my hair, painted my face, and even put on pants. I sat at the kitchen table and carefully laid my notes around my laptop. A neutral wall was my perfect background. Everything was flawless, with the clock showing 5 minutes until training time.

Prepared af, like a boss.

A dog pushed her way through the doggy door in the kitchen and trotted by me. I barely noticed. Then suddenly, a shrill bark joined by a low growl startled me. The dogs had been so good all morning, I had almost forgotten they were in here. My Doberman was standing in the corner of the room near the living room couch, snarling. My sister’s two Brittany’s were unexpectedly yipping, fighting, howling, and sprinting in circles.

I panicked.

No one had joined the meeting yet, but I muted my mic and hollered to my sister, “My training is starting! Can you take care of them?!”

She hurried from her office into the room and approached the dogs.

Then she screamed.

The entire room was a whirling tornado of barks and shouts, and my anxiety shot through the roof.

“What?!” I asked, shutting off my webcam and leaping to my feet. I approached the pack of squealing mammals and bent down to the carpet next to the couch.

One of the Brittanies had caught, killed, and brought in a bleeding ground squirrel, which now stained the tan carpet. For just a moment, my heart broke for the tiny creature, and my first instinct was to help the situation.

“Oh, my God, this isn’t happening,” I mumbled. I tried to gain control of the room as blood seeped into the fibers of the carpet, but it was no use. I didn’t have the time to be the sister version of myself. I didn’t even have time to be the damage control version of myself. I needed to remain my professional self, completely on, fully armed, ready to facilitate this training in less than five minutes.

I made a split-second adult decision.

I scooped up all my notes and my laptop. I dashed up the stairs and locked myself in the first bedroom I came to. I stood there, my mind reeling, studying the space. There was a window and pile of old Christmas decorations on one side of the room, a bed in the middle, and an empty tan wall on the other side.

I didn’t have a choice.

I knelt at the bed and set up shop, with the blank wall behind me. My knees sank in as I tried to find some form of comfort in my new space. I did my best to smooth my frizzing hair, then I turned the webcam back on.

Just as I finished reorganizing my notes, my first participant arrived, and I forced calm through my system. I may have been chaos inside, but outside I had to be a professional.

As the training progressed, I struggled to catch my breath, but kept a smile across my jaw and pressed on. About halfway through, the temperature was inching toward scorching in that tiny bedroom. As the sweat rolled down my back, I realized the register must be sealed, and no cool air was circulating into this room on the hottest day of the year. I had locked myself in a sauna and was kneeling on the floor, trying to act like everything was fine.

It’s fine. I’m fine. Everything is fine.

Adulting is running a virtual training like a boss bitch after something just died in the living room. I was breathless and sweaty, but I executed to the best of my ability, despite the unpredictable disorder that tore apart the calm aura I spent weeks fabricating. As a professional, as an adult, we must always expect the unexpected. No matter how much we prepare or how often we rehearse, there will always be things we never anticipated. It’s not these unprecedented incidents that define us, but how we handle them. That’s what makes us who we are and teaches us what adulting truly means.

And don’t worry— we managed to get the blood out of the carpet.

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