Getting Held Back in Sports

I have failed a class before.

This happened when I was 7/8? years old; one of my sisters, my younger brother, and I were enrolled into summer swimming classes at our hometown private pool. I could not perform the strokes and exercises well enough; so, while my brother and sister advanced to the next level, I was held back to try the same level again.

Embarrassed, I reluctantly did the class again and still fared only mediocrely compared to my new classmates. I walked away from swimming that summer feeling like I was stupid for not knowing how to swim properly.

This year, I experienced a similar experience: my family and I went up to Beaver Creek for the Easter holiday. Most of us enrolled into ski school to learn a few things about this winter sport (none of us had really skied much, except for the Montana family). I was ambitious and registered for the whole weekend so I could get as much out of the experience as possible. Plus, I live in Colorado: shouldn’t I be required to know how to ski?

My first day of the class, we were only about 30 minutes into the class and I already felt my insecurities and embarrassment arise as I watched myself fall behind my fellow classmates. My knees locked up as I attempted to maintain balance on my skis; the instructor was patient with me at first, guiding me along while we were still in the practice area.

Then, we went up the gondola so we could practice on more realistic turf with kid skiers and other beginners. I saw my niece and nephew getting the hang of skiing in their little class; meanwhile, I was struggling still to keep up with my classmates. Finally, one of the ski supervisors came up to me and told me how my class instructor decided I needed to have special individual instruction due to my slowness holding back the class.

Again, I felt embarrassed and down on myself. How come I cannot get the hang of this like everyone else? After awhile, though, the supervisor changed my mind and made me practice up and down the conveyor belt area, all the while encouraging me, giving me high-fives when I accomplished successful form and technique.

I ended up skipping out on the ski class for the rest of the weekend, opting instead to have my oldest sister guide me in my skiing form on the last day.

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I talk about these two instances because I want to point out how I freeze up with insecurity when it comes to sports, classes, etc. Perhaps growing up chubby made me feel that I was not capable of doing well in sports like all the ‘normal-sized’ kids out there. I always placed last in the mile run during Presidential Fitness Tests in elementary school; to this day I refuse to play volleyball because I am reminded of how terrible I was in middle school PE classes, serving the ball off to the left and never over the net.

Do I think something is wrong with me? No. Do I think the school system, our society, causes for kids to feel upset/discouraged/embarrassed too easily when it comes to things they are not great at? I’m not completely sure. In this day and age, we are so quick to blame society on problems in the world; but is it fair for me to use society to blame for my insecure feeling when trying sports out? My ski-school experience was definitely an experience, and I kept reminding myself during the first day that my assumptions of my classmates thinking I’m “slow, fat, out of shape” were probably wrong. We’re adults now, right? We can’t be thinking about “Oh, that person is so slow with this sport”, right?

To this day, I can’t help but wonder if, when I do do well with something athletic, if others are cheering me on genuinely or if they’re just cheering me on in a condescending fashion because they’re thinking, “Ha, this overweight girl *actually* did something right?” Maybe I need to examine my own thoughts before I go and make these assumptions again. How do I shake the feelings from childhood though?

Injustices of Life: Crowdfunding Version

Joyful Harvest field trip to a local farm. For some of the kids, it was their first visit ever to a farm. Just some of the many experiences the center brings to Joyful kids.

Joyful Harvest field trip to a local farm. For some of the kids, it was their first visit ever to a farm. Just some of the many experiences the center brings to Joyful kids.

Note: Not paid to write about Joyful Harvest. This is a situation dear to me, even though I do not live in Maine. To see a friend in pain, to hear about how the children will lose a safe haven if Joyful Harvest closed down….doesn’t this also bring pain to your heart?

Crowdfunding: it seems to have opened doors for so many. Projects getting funded left and right….dreams coming true.

But, should ALL dreams get funded? Even the ones that don’t contribute to society?

I’ll admit: back in August, I ran my own crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. I wanted to raise money for TAOpivot so I could pay for an intern and ease some of my financial burdens with running the company. I chose the flexible funding option; most of the money I raised was through my loved ones. I did not reach my funding goal, though.

In hindsight, I see that I did not have a strong enough campaign or message to compel strangers to contribute. However, as I watched which campaigns got featured on the front page, I also grew bitter. How come campaigns for making zombie figurines were getting overfunded and mine, a worthy social pursuit, was not?

My friend Shay, aka Black Girl in Maine, recently put up a campaign on Indiegogo to help her nonprofit organization, Joyful Harvest Center, to stay afloat. Joyful Harvest is a safe haven for children from low-income families in the Biddeford area of Maine. I hurt seeing how few people contributed to the fund; I hurt even more seeing how the center could potentially close its doors by the end of June due to lack of funding.

And again, I am reminded of why, many times, crowdfunding is a way to fund everyone’s dreams, but some dreams seem “more important” to the public than others.┬áPeople would rather see more useless objects in our society than to fund organizations that are trying to improve society/our economy.

And then, these same people wonder why they’re unemployed, or why there is still a high-unemployment rate in the U.S.

Is this how human nature shows its true colors through this new way of funding? Have we, as a society, grown numb to trying to help each other out for worthwhile necessities in life? Have we suddenly decided that funding a statue of a not-so-famous celebrity on a dinosaur’s body is so much more important than helping a nonprofit organization for at-risk youth?

Sure, life is unfair, but if we’re a society built on making the next generation of leaders, why are we turning the other way when it comes to what Joyful Harvest Center is trying to achieve? What other socially-minded ventures are trying to achieve?

(Want to make a financial donation to Joyful Harvest Center?)

 

3 Reasons Entry-Level Work Does Not Exist Anymore

All these people are lined up for a conference, or lined up looking for work...or both.

All these people are lined up for a conference, or lined up looking for work…or both.

Alternate Title: Why Employers are Being Unfair with Their HR Methods

Lately, this topic seems to come up a lot among my peers and my clients at TAOpivot: “Why do I have to have years of experience when it is an entry-level job?” “Why can’t I get paid for my worth?” “Why can’t I get a job out there with benefits, health insurance, etc.?” and on and on.

All very valid questions and I completely understand the frustration; I experienced this in my own job search after I got my Bachelors degree. I moved to San Francisco, naively thinking that, despite no relevant work experience I was sure to land something entry-level.

I did and I did not: I was left with a lot of the same questions I listed above. The catch-22 of a job-seeker with little to no work experience: how to gain experience if nobody is willing to hire and train me?

I believe these days, entry-level work does not exist anymore. Three reasons why:

  1. Company staff are running lean; they do not have the time or money to have a staff member train a new employee, especially one without experience. The company must focus on how to utilize their available staffing in the most versatile way.
  2. Because companies are running lean, they feel that inexperienced candidates would only cost the company more (time, money). These companies may or may not have perpetual “interns” who end up doing too much of the slush work.
  3. Saying “entry-level” in a job posting plus “5+ years of experience” will certainly lure someone more experienced to be paid at an entry-level position…..because everyone falls for that, right?

The three reasons may all sound the same, and they pretty much boil down to one main point: the economy is still pretty crappy. The way businesses are run is changing in this new landscape where no longer do people stay at one job all their life: they may end up job-hopping a lot before they find a job that they will stick with. Employers are not happy with this kind of landscape because they could lose valuable talent right away if a better offer comes along.

But, these reasons should not cause for employers and HR managers to shy away from adapting to the new environment. And, most certainly, I find when job postings state both “entry-level” AND “requires 5+ years of experience”, that that is just unethical.

I know that companies are running lean; even my own startup is lean. But at the same time, I believe that the many jobless job-seekers out there can really help the economy if a few more employers actually played fair and were open to taking on entry-level/newly graduated job candidates and pay them their proper share.

The economy is not going to fix itself with a magic wand. We must make incremental changes in our own mindsets and how businesses are run in order to give our fellow Americans work and allow them to help alongside and fix our economy.

The Phoenix Rises Again.

The mind is a powerful thing, but it also is an unruly thing.

I write this today after a meltdown yesterday afternoon. The things that my mind conjured up for the situation–and what is the reality. I get wrapped up into my own thoughts too easily, which is common among others, I believe.

This time around though, even though I could have cried and moped for days like I used to, I didn’t. I took a few hours, the rest of the day really, to myself and then just realized–that, that everything is going to be okay. Setbacks happen. I tweeted out that I should be used to heartbreak by now, and when I let that thought simmer, I realized that yes, I am ‘used to’ the feeling, and I am used to healing and bouncing back by now.

I am.

Last year, I had episodes of sadness that spanned a few days. I’d feel guilty for bringing down my friends around me as I tried to work myself out of the rut. This episode last night, though, is now over. I got up after my bout of crying and got dinner; wrote emails to decision makers; and just stayed busy.

And this morning, that’s the same. There’s no time for me to stay in the dumps for a few days. Today I present again at Ignite Denver (and this time over a sillier topic than before). I have received emails and tweets about meetings and a photo shoot. I need to pack for my trip out west before I get to the airport Friday evening. The conference I’m going to, Launch Festival, is going to be life-changing for me and for TAOpivot.

So, what’s the big deal with a setback like what I experienced yesterday? Just have to bounce back quickly and realize that life is good and that I cannot allow for low times to get to me.

And so it is.

No fear in standing before others.

I broke the news to my parents last night about my big life decision.

At first, they were bewildered, perhaps slightly angry. But then they calmed down, or psyched themselves out, with words of encouragement for TAOpivot ‘s future success and that I don’t need an advanced degree to have my own company.

I was expecting much worse of a reaction, but thank goodness for clients rolling in already (slowly, but surely). Still, I spent the day today anticipating a phone call from my dad, angrily spewing “WHY DID YOU LEAVE SCHOOL” to me. But, he didn’t.

Even if my dad decided to blow up at me, I need to learn to not be so sensitive. A lot of times, I worry about telling my parents many things because I worry about what they’d think and say to me. I suppose I have these same fears with other loved ones as well; I worry too much about what they may think if they knew everything about me.

In the end, though, I know I cannot control how others think of me; I can only control my reactions, my thoughts, etc. There’s only so much life to live; I’d rather spend my time working on TAOpivot and other things I enjoy than worrying about others’ opinions about me.