Since returning to Springfield as a new RA I've left my door open quite a bit. I tell myself that its to be more approachable, to be more transparent with my residents and others in the building,and to be open to them emotionally at all times possible. I found out very quickly, that leaving my door open taught me more in the past week than I ever would have imagined.
I came back to Springfield early for Track intersession, something I am always excited to be invited back for , but this time it was bittersweet knowing that I would not be able to compete because of RA training. Part of me wondered why I was going to bother leaving my family, home, and dog a week earlier than I had to if I wasn't even going to compete- of course I appreciated the time to practice and work on technique and being with the team, nonetheless I was pretty bummed. BUT, I learned a lot this week, so bear with me?
The first couple days of practice I was making wonderful progress, not huge improvements but definitely key technique progress and after years of working on my ducky bio mechanics, I was beyond pumped. However, like any streak of progress starts it must end, an end brought on by the inevitable "bad day". My blocks weren't right all of a sudden, I kept stopping short before hurdles, I wasn't clearing heights I believed I should have been, and to top it all off I didn't know that the lift I was in had started earlier than the rest of the team so I missed a good majority of it- awesome. I was so frustrated on so many levels, I could have cried, thrown something, and curled up into a ball in the corner- sounds dramatic right? Well, here's the first couple things I learned from that day: don't take yourself so seriously, and don't assume that someone else's frustrations are insignificant. I laugh at myself sometimes for taking a sport, that I am mediocre at best, so seriously when I love it so much, but that's just it- I love it so much. I have never been so passionate about one thing for so long and that is why I get so frustrated when people dismiss that. Some people look at me like I'm ridiculous when I get so worked up and I get even more angry! We are all passionate about different things on different levels, and it is okay for you to be indifferent about things- but don't automatically assume that everyone else should too. Judging one's situation closes a door for us to learn from that person- so if learning's your thing, judgement shouldn't be. That being said, I've noticed we're a part of a society that feels the need to always be proving ourselves in something to someone- stop. Start performing, learning, competing for yourself- its incredible how much you improve, learn, and have fun when you aren't under that pressure all the time. So loosen up and make yourself a priority!
On the morning of my first RA training I was pulled aside by my AC and all I could think of was *oh god, I already screwed up, shoot!* But what I got instead was an address I never expected to hear, "You are excused to go to your track meet tomorrow" *BEST DAY EVER*. Which brings me to my next lesson: everything works itself out. I expected the worst (not being able to compete) but prepared for the best all week, training hard and carefully, picking up my uniform just in case- and it worked out in the best way possible. Sometimes life's surprises aren't as bad as we make them out to be, and if they are- well we're all humans, we all have the ability to adapt, and that's just what we gotta do. As for the meet, well I still have a lot to work out and, as always, I was probably harder on myself than I needed to be- but if you're like that, at least try to be constructive. Sure I beat myself up, everyone else who does that -you know who you are. But after throwing myself a small one-person pity party on my 5 minute walk around the facility following my major screw up, I snapped back and did what I came there to do- compete. Don't let one failure prevent you from potential success, its quite unproductive. Take that walk, throw yourself the pity party with the streamers, balloons, the whole bit- but then knock it off and get it done. Long story short, I learned that I have some really great coaches who understand the frustration but refuse to let me wallow in it, progress is what we are after and that's what we're gonna get.
Lastly, I've learned a whole lot from my residents already, most all of which I already am friends with from this previous year. I had a teammate randomly cross through my open door with what appeared to be a friendly conversation in passing, but turned into a conversation lasting over an hour- a conversation that made me feel as though I wasn't alone in my frustrations. Though we are completely different athletes, her being an incredibly successful sprinter, and me being the awkward duckling multi-eventer- our frustrations were one of the same. This lead me to learn that, no matter how different people appear to be, it doesn't necessarily make their problems and frustrations different. Oftentimes we assume that one person has it more difficult or easy than us simply because of who they appear to be, when in reality we are more similar than we could have ever imagined. So instead of simple assumptions and settling for that feeling of isolation in our difficulties, or pitying someone who doesn't need it- lets open our mouths and talk. Not all discussion about what we go through day-to-day has to be a "rant". But maybe, just maybe, even that one conversation could bring us closer, happier, and a little less paranoid that we're "the only one". Sure we're all different, but it doesn't mean we're alone in our thoughts and concerns. Even just tonight I learned from my residents and just how open some of them are. It is just so refreshing to know that while some appear to take life lightly, they don't forget how to be a decent human being. I can't wait for a semester with these people, on this campus that, while I don't always love returning to- I always learn more than I could ever imagine.
So thanks for letting me drone on about some of what I learned this week and gush about my residents (even if they do pull down my door tags every once in a while- grrrr)! I appreciate each and every one of you!
Continuing to leave my door open (literally and figuratively) as much as humanly possible!
~An Awe-inspired (and Still-Freezing from hills at track this morning) Duck