Monday was my first day in the Merrimack Valley Sandbox Winter Accelerator program. Six hours of orientation with first impressions, presentations, introductions, elevator pitches, and everything in between. It was the beginning of a new experience, one that promises to be challenging and transformative.
My own first impression was one of slight intimidation. Despite the words from our fearless leaders that we were chosen for a reason, questions rose from my inner critic of whether I should be sitting among a group of people with such clear, direct business ventures in comparison to my own.
It was my first day communing with the outside world after being down and out with a nasty virus for over a week. My voice and body were weak and sensitive. My spirit was not yet returned to its vibrant, buoyant self either.
Presentations offered new, unfamiliar language. Participants wore high heels, blazers, and ties.
I took copious notes. I reminded myself to sit up straight each time I slouched. I drank my tea with honey and felt the warmth and comfort of the liquid filling me with strength and confidence.
And somewhere from inside, a voice spoke to me with assurance.
“You belong here. This is not the first time you have questioned whether you will succeed, and it will likely not be the last. You will work hard, learn, and change. If you had all of the answers now, you would not have been chosen to be here. You will ask questions. You will ask for help. And it is ok to ask questions and to ask for help. Just like life, this program is not a competition. It is an opportunity to join a new community, to create the reality you want for yourself, and to help others do the same.”
Just keep breathing, and be thankful.
And I am.
Ever since graduating in May, I have been searching for what comes next. In the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, I may have found an answer, even if it is one that will raise more questions.