Wednesday night, after watching Eat, Pray, Love for the thousandth time since being in Botswana (which I watched in an effort to be inspired and motivated for my interview with Peace Corps Headquarters), I started getting stomach pains. And not your normal stomach pain either. This was absolutely diabolical. Gut-wrenching, shooting pains that made me keel over. As the pain started making me feel like projectile vomit was inevitable, I started making routine rounds to the bathroom. This continued all through the night and well into the morning...
...into the morning of my big on camera interview for Peace Corps' new recruitment and marketing videos. Of course.
In the hours before the interview, I was so exhausted and in so much pain that I couldn't help but cry. Why now? I have been sick only a handful of times since moving to Botswana and, even then, nothing compared to this - the stomach flu. It may very well be the worst of the icky-sicknesses. My body's timing was wretched. But my will-power was going to have to win out this time. It had to.
I somehow managed to rip myself away from my spot next to the toilet bowl long enough to take a shower and put on some makeup (being sure to apply a little extra blush to offset the whiteness in my face). I talked to my mom and my sister one last time on instant messenger and gave myself a pep-talk that included "DO NOT PUKE ON THE INTERVIEWERS" and "you can do this" before collecting my things and making my way (very slowly) towards the combi stop.
Despite waiting for a combi with an open front seat so I could sit by a window, the ride to where we were meeting seemed to drag on. Deep breaths. I arrived about fifteen minutes ahead of schedule - enough time, I reasoned, to make one last dash to the bathroom (in case I became a pukey face again) then to fix my makeup, change my shoes, and be ready to impress. Deep breath.
I was miserable. But I was there.
And, to my surprise, people were complimenting me on how great I looked! It's amazing how much a little makeup, a good outfit, and a fake smile can do!
I sat and meditated while I waited for the communications team from headquarters to arrive. I mentally went over the interview questions they sent a few days prior and I told myself over and over and over again that I could get through this. Deep breaths were my friend and an active mind was my distraction from the shooting pain in my stomach.
Before long, we were making our way to a conference room, where the interview would be held. I made small talk with the communications team, who were two of the most lovely people I have met in a long time. I instantly took a liking to them. So, of course, I over-shared about my stomach flu and they, in turn, shared their mineral water. This proved to be a gift in the hour ahead. As they finished setting up the camera, they told me about the goals for this filming and the ways in which the footage would be used. And then we were off! Lights, camera, ACTION!
I am not entirely sure of everything I said over the course of the next hour and a half but the communications team assured me that I did a great job and that they got a lot of usable material from my interview. The lead interviewer went so far as to say I gave them the exact responses they had hoped for when they set out for Southern Africa. And, to be honest, they seemed genuinely interested in everything I had to share (to the point of continuing the conversation well after the camera stopped rolling).
I had done it. I beat the stomach flu and successfully made it to my interview! (I toppled over shortly after.)
Someone on the Peace Corps staff took pity on my poor aching self and drove me home after the interview. For the next twenty-four hours, all I did was sleep and drink rehydration salts.
Rise to the occasion. Mind over matter. Make it happen. Lessons that played out for this interview - and in life.