Sunday evening and I have that sinking feeling, that profound dread of what the week will bring. It is all because tomorrow is THE day of the seminar that we have been planning for weeks at work and I have done all I can to prepare my talk, even running through it in my head in the confines of my bedroom. And all I can think is what possessed me to agree to it at all? What seemed to be a cosy seminar for students has now become a full-blown forum for academics, social researchers, prominent local figures from the ethical fashion industry and other people who 'know their stuff'. And me (who hopefully knows her stuff). In other words, I did not know what I was letting myself in for and the concept snowballed before my very eyes until it was too late to change my mind.
How bad can twenty minutes be? It is a challenge, I tell myself. But then the other half of me wonders if challenges are really necessary in life. Why do I want to take myself out of my comfort zone? Too late to consider all this now...
Next day I awake with the same feeling of dread after the inevitable dreams where everything goes wrong. The pain in the pit of my stomach only worsens as the morning goes on. At around 10am I make my way to El Centro Metropolitano de Diseño by bus, arriving in one of the most run-down parts of Buenos Aires that I have seen yet. Clutching my netbook tightly under my arm I hurriedly walk the few blocks to the centre where inside awaits the most beautiful space of sleek wood, modern-industrial wrought iron, exposed brickwork. The place is alive with activity, classes taking place, groups of people meeting over coffee, it feels creative and full of potential.
Typically I am the first to arrive of my company. No one knows if there are going to be 5 people in the audience, 20 or 60. There is no running order, no timetable, nothing. I should be used to this by now but still it irks me. The seminar starts almost one hour late with around 60 listeners in the audience, various speakers present their ideas and I still have no idea when it will be my turn. The second half of the seminar goes a little downhill; speakers have to rush through their carefully coordinated Powerpoint presentations, attempts at talks made via Skype fall apart as the sound quality deteriorates. Finally, as the penultimate speaker, I am called up to sit under the glaring lights and talk through my experiences of working in fair trade fashion. The look of horror on my bosses face when I start the talk in English instead of Spanish is palpable; it seems there was some miscommunication on this point but now is not the time to worry about it and so I plough on. Like many others, my talk is cut short as we are running well over time, it certainly is not my finest moment.
But it's done and I can breath easily again. I don't have that adrenaline-fueled high that I was expecting, just a sense of anti-climax, deflation, but best of all, relief.