My eyes pop open just as the sun peaks over the horizon. With the soft glow of morning overtaking my serene bedroom, a deep stretch is enough to toss the previous night and its warm covers aside. Hopping out of bed with a smile on my face and a pep in my step, I embrace the good fortune of the day ahead. As I sit by the window to sip on green tea and read through the latest news, I’m warmed by the sun that continues to rise. Ah, next: yoga. The bright orange mat that was neatly stored beside the bookcase is now stretched across the living room floor, inviting me for daily practice. I clean, dry and put away my tea mug, then ease into several sun salutations. The calm and meditative practice takes my mind away from the stresses of the news and the to-do list that I’ll tend to later. I focus now only on my well-being and strength.
Yes, this is how a boss starts her morning – in stardust pajamas.
Oh, who me?
I reluctantly lift the corner of my eye mask to be blinded by the bright light that’s overtaken the room, only to quickly drop it in horror, returning to the safety and comfort of denial. With my eyes cloaked in darkness, I reflect on yesterday’s accomplishments and failures, and I strategize for the day ahead. A special kind of heat consumes me, born from a combination of anxiety and expired sleep. I toss the covers aside in discomfort, peel the mask from my eyes, and use my limited arm strength to assume a semi-upright position. Rubbing blurry eyes, I trip on the yoga mat that’s been strewn across the bedroom floor since the weekend. I intentionally avoid eye contact with the exhausted woman in the mirror as I brush my teeth and continue to mumble through the list of things to get done today. After a quick shower and maybe a sip of water, I need to get to that presentation I’m about to make in less than an hour. Wait, do socks have to match?
Not quite a boss. No stardust pajamas.
Starting a business (if you don’t know my business, it’s Ancestors unKnown – and it’s powered by stardust) has been such a strange experience. Tumbling out of the house, standing fully upright, and pretending to be ready for anything, I’ve been ‘faking it till I make it’ on most days. But really I’m just walking around with some business cards and a dream. A good strategy? You bet. It’s only a matter of time before those boss behaviors start to take shape.
One day a few animated birds will probably knock on my window, invite themselves in, help me pick out a cute outfit, and sprinkle some stardust on me. Then I’ll be a real boss. It’s not that I’m necessarily waiting for this day. I’m just subconsciously aware that eventually it will come.
So earlier this week, I prepared to leave my apartment and head to the first official partner school for Ancestors in The Netherlands (one of the teachers has been teaching lessons from the curriculum about untold histories and genealogy research for several months now). Although I was rushing, I packed a pretty responsible bag. Let’s see, there was a USB stick, my laptop charger, a notebook – if you’re a professional type, you’ll understand what these words mean.
I arrived at the school 40 minutes later, having enjoyed some reading time during my commute on the tram and bus. After the teacher met me in the lobby, we stopped for some tea and chatted on the way to the classroom. He explained that he hadn’t told the students I would be the guest lecturer (this was the result of a late change in plans).
“No, they don’t know it’s you giving the talk. Now they get to hear from the big boss of the Ancestors program.”
“Say what?” I thought.
And when he introduced me to the students, he really committed, “Today we have an exciting guest lecture…we get to hear from the big boss of Ancestors unKnown. The one responsible for the program…” The students (a diverse group with mainly students of color) smiled and greeted me with familiarity. They’ve been studying the ancestors for months and just recently completed their family interviews. These young people know me…and my business.
In fact, these students see me as the “big boss” of said business. No one even objected to this assessment (except maybe the little Dana in my head who rations confidence).
Looks like it’s time for me to catch-up with the students’ opinions.
No morning miracle. No animated birds. No stardust. Just hard work that’s finally starting to pay off. Turns out that’s what makes me a boss.
And I don’t give a damn that my socks don’t match.
R.I.P. Phife Dawg