I was in the worst mood before I got there.
A pick-a-fight-with-Michael-for-absolutely-no-reason kind of mood.
“There” was Concord Hospital, AKA the place I was flown to just days after the fire.
It’s where I woke up after a month long induced coma, and it’s where I learned to talk, stand, walk, and, well, do everything again.
I’d agreed to speak at one of their nurse training days. You know, share my story and some of my pain management tips and give them my patient perspective.
As you’re probably aware, I spend a lot of my time speaking at events.
So, I thought this little speech would be easy. I was secretly a bit excited to head up there in “Turia” mode and be slick, and cool and impressive and funny (and really modest too ?). A big leap from how I’d left the hospital seven-odd years ago.
I was so confident that it would be a breeze that I decided to tack it on before another speech I’d been booked for that day. Sure, the other one was a big conference. 5,000 people, a super tight schedule, international speakers, smoke machines, fancy lights etc etc. But it wasn’t a worry. I could do it in my sleep.
But then the day rolled around and I woke up in a crappy mood.
And when I realised the hospital event was running late, meaning I would also be running late for my other booking, my shitty mood turned to a rattled, nervous mood.
So, there I was, standing at the back of the hospital conference room, muttering anxiously to myself “Why did I agree to do two speeches in the one day?”, “We’re going to be late”, “Why wouldn’t Michael let me eat my spaghetti bolognese in the car?”, “Doesn’t he know how hungry I get?” etc etc etc, when a sea of familiar faces turned towards me.
It was my time to speak.
But I was stuck at the back of the room. Glued to the wall behind me.
Dotted throughout the crowd were the nurses who had cared for me in the burns unit. The ones who had changed my bandages when I was unable to move or speak. The ones who had been with me at 3am when I was too terrified to sleep, the ones who had fed me, bathed me, and given me the straight-talking, kindly offered advice that had gotten me through some of my darkest days.
Suddenly, slipping into “Turia”-mode didn’t feel so easy.
15 minutes in, when I got to the part about my time there at Concord, it became hard to swallow. And with a shuddering exhale, totally out of my control, I started to cry.
Right up there on stage, in front of all the adults.
I was mortified. I was supposed to be slick and professional. Crying and shaking on stage wasn’t gonna cut it.
But in seconds, one of my old nurses from the burns unit was on her feet. “You’ve got this Turia”, she yelled.
Whoops and applause started ringing out from the audience. And as I looked up, I could see radiant, encouraging smiles on all the faces I knew.
So, I drew a deep, shaky breath and carried on. Rattly and emotional to the end.
Here’s the thing:
It’s OK to let your guard down.
It’s OK to drop your smooth and shiny exterior. We’re not beetles. We don’t have to be on point 100% of the time. (Beetles, on the other hand, they’ve really gotta lift their game).
This is what I try to hammer home in my School of Champions program:
Even when you think you should be “good” at something, it’s OK to be vulnerable. To be uncertain. To be sad. To be unprofessional. To not be as fit as you’d like, or as cool as you’d like, or as organised, or as motivated or as polished.
And most importantly, it’s OK to accept help.
To get support from the people who want to see you succeed.
I’m so proud that the crew in my School of Champions can be that support for each other. The conversations I see happening in our Facebook group make me feel so grateful.
We’re a group of cool, funny, clever people who aren’t always cool, funny and clever.
We’re people, with goals, striving to make them happen – in all conditions. Learning to ask for help, learning to accept it, and learning how to chase down the stuff that matters.
The doors close soon.