Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My job as an analogy for birth

Earlier today I was overwhelmed with emails from a client. I'm in that familiar place of planning an event where everything is hard, but also, almost finished. During this phase, I'm proofing schedules and making sure the 700 different documents with event details (the version that goes to the hotel, the version that goes to the attendees, the version that the client uses to staff, the version *I* use to staff, the list goes on) are all being updated with the million changes the client wants to make at the last minute. And make no mistake - ALL clients want to make changes at the last possible hour. All of them. It's like human instinct or something.

I hate this phase of event planning so much. I fight against it and it makes me anxious. I lose sleep wondering if I told the audio vendor about the video that got added to that one session, and do I need to tell the hotel too in case they want to charge me a million dollars to add a power cord for the audio mixer? Dreams of the client yelling at me on-site when their audio doesn't work follow.


I have a tendency to hold my stress in my jaw. I don't grind my teeth, but I clench my jaw as tight as it can go with my teeth millimeters from touching and hang out like that ALL DAY as my default. After a day or two of this, my jaw aches like nobodies business and I'm cranky times 100.  I was driving to my (new!) office this morning and reminding myself to relax my jaw for the 3rd time of the day and it dawned on me that this was the same reminder I made Jeff give me while in labor. Turns out birthing an event isn't very different from birthing a baby. Okay, it totally is, but humor me and let me make the comparison.

The only way to get to the good part is to accept that I must live through the hard part. Like labor, an event date isn't negotiable. The baby has to come out, you have to do the hard work to get it out. The event is happening, invites have been sent, RSVPs received. There are no extensions in event planning. At least not without paying some exorbitant cancel fees. Or getting fired. The best you can do is relax into the uncomfortable place, own it, and get through it. My every instinct is to fight against this part of the process - it's that part in labor where you're all, "Just kidding! I can't do this! I'll just keep the baby inside." and everyone looks at you like you're crazy. And then you push the baby out.

If I really wanted to draw out the analogy, I could go on to draw a comparison to writing the debrief/lessons learned report the week after an event to delivering the placenta, wherein you're all, "WHAT? You mean I'm not really done? I pushed the fucking baby out, what more do you want from me?!"

I console myself that soon, after months of wondering what my "baby" will look like, I'll get to see the event through. And that at least when an event is over, I won't have wear those weird hospital issue mesh underpants home. So I guess there's that.

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