Last Wednesday, I flew out of my comfort zone and into St. Louis, Missouri for the Young Professionals Network‘s annual 30 Under 30 event. They had kindly invited me a few months before — each year, the board asks a few 30 Under 30 winners from across the country to come together in STL for a happy hour and educational panel. I hesitated initially. Airplanes make me very nervous, as do social events. The night before, I was beside myself with worry and thought about staying home. I mustered every ounce of courage, asked God to do it and successfully got myself to the airport the next morning.
I was picked up in STL by Liz and Rob, two YPN board members that knew so much about their city. Jessica, a fellow 30 Under 30 winner from Nashville, was in the car, too. Suddenly, I was cruising around a brand new place in a black stretch limousine. We picked up the third 30 Under 30 winner, Lucy, from her office. With that, we were off: checking out listings, driving by the Gateway Arch and eating custard from Ted Drewes.
A few hours later, we arrived at the happy hour in the penthouse of one of the city’s luxury rental buildings. I had someone to talk to at all times, and it was actually quite fun being “Melanie from Chicago.” I met so many realtors, some asking me for advice and others just wanting to know about my life.
We went sometime later to a popular place called PW Pizza. I rarely eat pizza or ice cream, but on this trip, I indulged. The YPN board treated us like royalty, taking us to dinner and drinks on the restaurant’s rooftop afterward. These people were so passionate about real estate, but additionally, they loved their YPN. I felt honored to be their guest.
That night, Jessica and I each slept in our own private apartments — complete with a living room, full kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Mine had views of Busch Stadium.
We awoke the next morning and walked a few blocks for coffee with some board members. I really loved spending time with that crew (Dan, Spencer and Christa). They were hilarious and so open — I felt like we were old friends. We laughed the entire way to the STL Realtor building for the main event.
I sat next to Jessica for the panel, and as soon as we got to our chairs, Lucy gave us two little bags. She’d made each of us a candle. Mine said: “Chicago’ Finest: 30 Under 30.” I wanted to cry. It was the sweetest gesture, and Jessica and I were beside ourselves.
The panel itself was also a surreal experience. I’ve never been a special guest before, so it was equally scary and thrilling to have 100+ people watching me. This felt different from my SYWTBAC seminars — instead, I had a new friend and sister-in-Christ next to me (Jessica) and two rockstar realtors (Lucy and Krista) on the other side of the table. The pressure was off, and I felt like I could be myself.
On the plane home that afternoon, I scrolled through the pictures on my phone. My time in STL went by quickly, but I learned a few things: I can go on a trip without knowing anyone and come out okay. God will take care of me and meet every need. Strangers will turn into friends in less than 24 hours.
Until next time, STL Realtors. Thank you so very much for having me.