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Telling My Story

A reminder of my calling (Candace)

Andrew’s friend from college, Pat, and his girlfriend, Camille, just came out to visit us for a few days from Vietnam. Pat has been living in a small town outside of Ho Chi Minh City for the past two years, managing a US-based manufacturing office. And Camille, originally from Paris, recently moved to HCMC with Starwood Hotels as part a management program which will eventually send her throughout Southeast Asia to train other hotels.

We immediately hit it off with Pat when we met up with him for drinks in Vietnam, and we so excited to have a few days with another couple on our trip. We were looking forward to exploring the more romantic spots on the island with them, and to taking them to a few more romantic activities that we hadn’t been able to work in quite yet with our other guests (last night we attended the DevDan Show, a Balinese version of Cirque du Soleil followed by a candlelight seafood dinner with musical accompaniment on Jimbaran beach, and today we’ve rented a villa in Canggu and have hired a private chef to make us dinner). And since Camille works for Starwood Hotels, she has been able to hook us up with some pretty amazing hotel stays that we could have never afforded without her help.

So it’s been a win-win.

And it’s been such an easy few days. It can be uncomfortable sometimes, meeting the significant other of a friend of your significant other, just for dinner, much less a three-day vacation. You have to trust that all personalities will get along, and you are forced into a compact space (hotel room or rental car) for a prolonged period of time with this person. So I have to give Camille some credit for blindly agreeing to come along on this trip.

And as soon as I met her, I was super impressed. At the young age of 25, she has been clear about her passion for years, works extremely hard (she went to Switzerland on her own at the age of 18 to study and worked all day yesterday while we were snorkeling and lounging at the pool), and has a vision to build an impressive career in the hospitality industry. Yet she is laid back, easy going, and asks great questions, which is a skill I often look for in others but rarely find. She reminds me of a younger version of myself, and we got along famously.

And yesterday, as we were driving from Nusa Dua to Jimbaran to check into our new hotel, she asked me to tell her about my lawsuit. I had mentioned it in passing a couple of times, but I generally try to not talk abut it, as I’m working hard on talking less about myself (since that is largely what got me in trouble in my lawsuit in the first place.) But she was genuinely interested, so I spent 20 minutes telling her my story.

And as I shared, many emotions came back up for me. The fear of failure, the defeat, the excitement of the unknown, and the resolve of starting over again from scratch. And as we discussed further, she mentioned that I am the first woman, outside of her mother, that is actually a strong business woman. She mentioned that, among all of her friends, she is the most ambitious, and that she’s been looking for women like me to help show her the way to make a name for herself.

What an awesome reminder of my calling. I haven’t been mentoring women as much as I once did, pre-lawsuit, and perhaps that is because I didn’t feel I had much to teach anymore. But I’m reminded how much we need strong women to model ourselves after, and that I have a responsibility to continue to tell my story for the Camille’s of the world.

Thank you, Camille, for this important reminder.