Saturday, January 9, 2016

My Cup of Coffee

Happy Weekend Everyone!
What woke you up this morning? Was it the smell of coffee? The mock AP test you had to take? Early shift at work?
While recalling what physically woke you up this morning, is wonderful (I was woken up by my lovely and persistent pooch)- what I really would like to know, is what truly motivates you each and everyday? I find so often, that so many people cannot see what truly motivates them, or they are still struggling to find it. Maybe their motivation is in a state of transition, temporarily lost in a change of schools, or between jobs. To me, knowing my motivation has a always been a huge part of who I am. It bothers me when I sleep walk through my day, when I don't know why I am doing something, or when I don't feel any passion or drive for the task at hand.
There are so many times throughout the year that I find myself questioning what drives me, and when I find others doing the same. Maybe its a busy time in school, mid terms or finals, suppose you are prepping for championship season in your sport, or maybe its nearing the end of the quarter at work- we all run into "those times", its a part of every day life for every one. What matters the most- is how we respond and regroup.
This semester in particular was challenging on several levels. Academically, I believe I can get several people to attest, but I can also say that the majority of us put our heads down and got through it (quite successfully might I add!). This semester, however, also challenged me athletically, showing me what I am able to do - revealing the potential I hold, and leaving me fighting to maintain progress, instead of my typical burn out and regression cycle. I was challenged in the relationships I held with people- but through the challenges I built bonds and experienced situations that have taught me more than I ever would have expected going into the semester- because nearly nothing that did happen, was expected. And though it was one surprise after another, I learned a fantastic amount not only about those around me, but myself as well. Now, I am fully aware of how cliche that all sounds, but for the most part its true!
Throughout my life I haven't been one to embrace change, I like routine and order, and when the peace is broken in the organized little safe haven I've built myself, I am not a happy camper. What got me through each change this semester was going back to my roots, and recognizing my purpose. There were times, of course, that you don't even want to think about purpose- you just want the madness to stop, which is normal but pretty damn unproductive. Not to say I haven't done that, but when I did find myself in that mind frame, I most always sought a friend and stayed with them until I could cool off and get back to work.
As for recognizing my motivations, it wasn't always so easy, things change, and humans are dynamic- what motivates us could change in an instant. For me , I was always motivated by teammates and track in high school. When I got to college, I was a part of a different team, people I haven't grown up with and spent hundreds of hours with - so of course it took a while to warm up to that motivation again (which I am happy and grateful to say I have!). My career plans have always been a huge motivation to me. When I wanted to be a veterinarian, I volunteered at an animal shelter every weekend, and fell in love with University of Vermont and Tufts (top vet schools in the country currently). But after over 11 years of having my heart set on being a vet, I changed my mind one day looking at colleges and decided that Physical Therapy was for me. All my research had to be redone, gears were changed, and suddenly I was on track to look at Springfield (which I immediately fell in love with).
There is nothing  wrong with changing focus, but know that there will always be judgement. So often, I see schools teaching kids tolerance and acceptance, and while tolerance is a beautiful thing - in our current state, total acceptance is not attainable. I have seen opinions muted, generalities spread, and controversy banned simply because we are "afraid" of hurting the feelings of others. We have set up an environment which we say is free and nonthreatening, but in reality there are very few people who feel comfortable sharing their true and unedited opinions in public and especially in the classroom - because debates are "not appropriate". In high school, I learned the most from classes in which we had debate nearly every single class, we were never uncivil or crude- we simply discussed our opinions and were not afraid to disagree. Now that debate has seemed to be eliminated in so many class rooms and in general, I see more and more passive people every where I go. People who don't seem to have an opinion on much of anything, seemingly indifferent to even the most controversial of subjects. I find it interesting how so many believe that we can truly make progress and change, in an environment that is so afraid to speak their mind. Without differing view points and controversy we remain stagnant and resentful. We believe that no one hears us or understands our situations, its like everyone has their blinders on and their fingers in their ears going "LALALALA I CANT HEAR YOU LALALA" . Well maybe its time that we opened our ears, and shook those blinders off. Maybe its time that we speak up AND listen, rather than yelling over the person in front of you with a different opinion, or simply not speaking at all. Speak up and listen up cause its about time we start making healthy change rather than worrying about spooking people like horses. Freedom of speech is our right, so use it- but don't use it as your excuse to be a jerk, you aren't the only person living on this planet. You have the power to practice tolerance by listening and at least trying to understand, but that doesn't mean you must sacrifice your own opinions and values to accept something you do not believe in- you aren't doing anyone any favors.
With that rant aside, if you decide to change your focus, don't worry about other people throwing their judgement out there. In some cases, it may even be out of concern! When I suddenly changed my focus to PT, nearly everyone questioned me about it. I had people scoffing at the idea, questioning my investment, and telling me that I was "too smart" for Springfield. The fact that they had these opinions did not bother me. There were often times that they even changed initial judgments after I told them that Springfield was a fantastic school for PT, and that I was motivated by helping still just as I was when I was interested in veterinary care.They simply wanted to ensure that the decision I was making was right for me. Did I need to explain myself? No, but I did because I wanted people to understand, and I knew I would be frustrated by those who just had no idea. Point is, don't let others waver your stance and motivations simply because they are questioning you about it, there will be skeptics in everything you do , it does not mean you have to try and please them (they're called skeptics for a reason).
With a new semester and a new year upon us there is so much that is dynamic, motivations have shifted, and people are eager for change! So maybe instead of being skeptical, we try to understand. And instead of trying to please everyone we please OURSELVES!  Crazy concept right? I must be such a selfish individual to even think if that! But ever hear the expression "you can't pour from an empty cup"? I've learned so far, that I have been the most successful in helping my friends, when I help myself first. Just like when you're on an airplane and the flight attendant specifically tells the parents to put their oxygen masks on in the case of an emergency before their children's? That instruction goes against every parent instinct they have - but what happens if you run out of air before you can successfully put on your child's mask? Then both of you are screwed, whereas if you put on your mask first, you would've been able to effectively put your child's mask on as well. The same concept can be applied to helping out a friend or family in times which they need it most. Be the best you, and know how to teach others to be their best selves- doesn't sound so selfish now, does it?
Now , I know this post is super long and ranty and lecturey and I apologize profusely, but I just have one more point to add that kinda smacked me in the face yesterday, and that is the importance of going back to your roots. Since being home, I have spent time at high school track practices and meets with a team that I only know half of- why? I'd like to say that its just because I need the access to equipment they have, and that I am not attached by the heart to a team that I am not even an athlete on anymore, but then I'd be lying through my keyboard. I will always find a home in that team, and I will always find comfort in going back whether I know 30 people, or just 3 of them. Most people assume that I go back to teach and simply try my hand at saying this they wouldn't be completely wrong. I do love the opportunity to show people I care about, whether I had known them for three weeks, or five years- what I know from a coaching standpoint, however, I will never teach them as much as they teach me everyday. I have experienced more in the past three weeks spending hours with a team, that time forced me to walk away from two years ago, than I ever will in a coaching class at school. They give me the motivation to continue doing track at school, to complete weeks of rehab when I'm injured, and to be the best athlete and student I can be- for them. When I lose the motivation to do it for myself, I know I will always be motivated for them because there is nothing I want more than to see each and every single one of them succeed in every thing they do, and to always remind them to learn when success doesn't simply greet them at the front door. When I witness them succeed, my heart couldn't be happier- everything becomes worth it. I could not be more grateful for everything thing they have taught me and allowed me to be a part of, and I would never be able to recognize that, if I had simply forgotten my roots.
AND I am grateful for all you reading! Thanks for enduring my long posts that may not even make sense, but it means the world to me that you at least take the time to read.
Best wishes in this New Year and may you all be your best you :)
With Love and Gratitude,
A Duck Doing Her Bestest

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