By Amy DuBose
We have all been there: That moment when you know your life will never be the same. Some of us experience this when we meet our soul mate, when our first child is born, when we lose someone we love, or when we experience deep trauma. My life-changing experience falls in the trauma category.
My appendix burst in early 2016. It had been ruptured for three days before doctors were able to pull it out, and I had complications afterward from almost going into septic shock. People often question why I didn’t listen to my body, but the truth is that I didn’t exhibit any typical symptoms.
To shorthand this story, here is my ordeal by the numbers: 16 days in the hospital over two separate stays, three surgeries, two IV lines, 64 bags of fluid and antibiotics, 16 pounds lost, five weeks out of work, and eight inches of intestines and one appendix removed.
Henry Ford once said, “Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this … and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.”
A new reality had formed for me. I started talking with my family and friends and on Facebook about these “life experiences” I was having. I came to realizations about my life and how I wanted to live it. I wanted to take care of myself and my family first and my job second. I learned that it’s okay to stand up for myself and my own needs and be my own best advocate.
I discovered in the aftermath of my experience that my association’s needs and I no longer fit and that it was time for a change. So, when an opportunity arose that was a better fit, I embraced it and went full steam ahead. Change—something that previously scared me—seemed not only possible all of a sudden, but positive.
Although I helped build my previous association from the merger of three in 2014 and enjoyed countless rewarding experiences there, I knew they would want the AE that I was, not the new person I had become. So with a new life start came a start at a new association. Now, I try to imbue everything I do at my association with a sense of optimism, joy, and gratitude, and I see this reciprocated by my staff and leaders.
My own experience has made me a more compassionate AE. We can’t see the periphery of our members’ lives. We don’t see divorce, sick children, the elderly parents they care for, financial difficulties, or a client that just gave them an earful. They know they can call us during certain hours and we will answer. You may feel like a target at times, but let it go. Don’t wear that person’s negativity, because there is likely something much bigger happening in their life than late fees, lost paperwork, or issues with their lockbox key.
I know how hard our jobs can be. We work tirelessly for our boards and members, and it isn’t always acknowledged. That’s okay, too. Be grateful for those members who do build you up and let them know how much you appreciate them. Tell that staff member who is the jelly to your peanut butter how much you love having them around. Hug people.
Do what makes you happy and don’t ever apologize for it. Dance. Sing. Tell jokes. Hula-hoop. Eat BBQ. Knit. Pray. Be you.
Amy DuBose, RCE, is the association executive at the Bryan-College Station Regional Association of REALTORS® and MLS, Texas. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 979-846-3751.