I never thought I’d be here. Sitting in the sun in the South of France while overlooking the French Riviera; sipping limitless rosé from a beachside cabana, on a yacht, on penthouse balconies, on rooftops that have rooftops with glass-encased pools; and strolling down Boulevard de la Croisette at 4:00 a.m. only to wake up two hours later to rinse and repeat.
The best part of it all: I am not on vacation. Like the 12,000 other people attending the Cannes Lions Creativity Festival, I’m here for work. When I arrived, I had only one mission: make the most of this trip. I’ve been wanting to come here since I joined my team three years ago. Every June, I’d watch my boss organize our company’s involvement and see her off to France. Cannes was a goal, but not an intended one. I mean, who wouldn’t want to come here. But getting here wasn’t something I set my eyes on, and I’m very glad for that.
In so many conversations, I have been told that coming to Cannes is a big deal. Not everyone gets a chance to make this trip. A new acquaintance shared that she wouldn’t make this trip a reoccurrence because she didn’t want her team members to expect a trip to Cannes as a reward. Apparently, this was something people worked forward to. I wondered if I had done the same.
I did. But not on purpose.
I’m here because over the past few years I’ve shown that I belong here. Timing has been everything. On my first day in Cannes, I met with the festival leads and retrieved the keys to our company’s cabana. Later that night when I handed them to my boss, she handed them back and told me to hold on to them. I’ve had them ever since. In that moment I could see her trusting me more because I’ve proven to be reliant and consistent. I’ve proven I want our team to win. I’ve proven that I want to be here. All of it took time, which meant being patient, a quality I believe grows in tandem with age.
Had I come a year before or a year before that, I don’t think I would have had the same appreciation, experience or impact. “You’re younger than the jeans I brought on this trip!” someone jokingly told me yesterday. Before this point in time, I was pretty young, sure, but not in terms of age. In terms of mindset. My confidence wasn’t high. On my first day to open the cabana, I woke up two hours late. instead of panicking and thinking of a good excuse, I texted my boss and rushed to get there. Once there, instead of profusely apologizing to her out of shame and embarrassment, I said, "What needs to get done?" and starting pulling things together.
As I’ve matured, made mistakes, made comebacks, I’ve learned to carry myself like a boss. I’ve learned to push forward past the setbacks, to be patient and to work hard not for a promotion or perks. I’ve learned to show up, be seen, be heard, and to say yes to myself just as I would to my boss: without hesitation or doubt, and faking it for now and figuring it out later.
Kadia a year or two ago would’ve wanted to do everything under the sun to prove she had to be here, like stressing to achieve perfection because she doubted she’d get another opportunity if otherwise. Kadia today, overlooking this clear blue water, is taking it easy, but not too easy, because she knows she's done her best and she’ll be back. I also trust that until then I will have many more experiences like this one. As for tonight, I will be toasting to a job well-done and time well-spent.