Updated: Jan 11, 2020
I wanted to write about something that I frequently go through. Actually, I don't just go through this, I'm tormented by it sometimes. Do you ever bend over backwards to get the approval of people that have no idea what you're even trying to do? I'm not talking about sticking it to the haters. Those people are actually paying attention and want you to fail. I'm talking about people that don't know what falls under your job title or what the difference in public school and private school is or why you get a babysitter at least one night a week. My real life example, I gave up a head coaching job to be a director of operations for an SEC school. While I was a head coach, the season of my life and the situation I was in at my school did not line up. I knew deep down that my job and family were going to clash, and honestly, I was in denial about it for a while. I just kept telling myself it would work out. Then the director of operations position at Auburn came open and I was offered the job. I immediately said yes and began my career with Auburn Volleyball.
I get to Auburn and I'm excited about a new job. Then I find out what I actually can and can't do per NCAA Rules. It was (and sometimes still is) heartbreaking. I really enjoyed helping people not only get better at skills, but become better decision makers on the court, earn leadership by their example, and above all, become so trusting of themselves that they didn't even need me on gameday. My new job would put me in charge of none of those things. It was heartbreaking, to tell the truth. I felt like I couldn't do the things that I enjoyed doing and I sucked at the things I was supposed to be doing. If there are any readers out there that have worked in athletics operations, you know that you just spend the first two years figuring out how to meet expectations. I didn't know anything about my facilities, compliance accountability, scheduling, or spending our budget money, yet here I was in charge of all of it. If I could describe it in two words, it would be hot mess. I was so discouraged and often thought "I gave up coaching for this?"
In response, I spent an entire 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting praying for my own attitude toward my job and my role with the team. I also joined an amazing small group for the spring semester where my husband and I ended up getting baptized with my husband at the end. I didn't get every kink worked out and I did not settle every issue, but I had a newfound peace about where I was. I stopped telling myself that my role wasn't important and began to pray for habits and behaviors that would set me up for success everyday. I noticed that when I started to think about my job as a mission field, that God was not going to let me fail. Even in my imperfect moments, I proved that I could still be trusted to rebound and make things happen because I found the art of setting up a great Plan B while fully expecting Plan A to go smoothly. I felt confident, trusted, and probably way more pleasant to be around.
*Sigh* Yet, I still have people in my life who just don't get it. They ask, "So are you just done with coaching? I thought that's what you wanted to do?" or "Don't worry, you'll get into a coaching role again." Man, when I heard those comments, I felt like I had settled or failed somehow. Like people were patting me on the head and saying "this is just a bump in the road to where you should be." For a long time, I believed it. I thought I was just going to get my foot in the door with the Power Five then I would move on to coaching again. I didn't have pride in my voice when I spoke about it because I hated the part where I had to say "umm, well no, I don't actually coach." When I handed this over to God, I had allowed myself to get dangerously close to quitting. I heard the voice of God tell me "you don't have the right to quit something that hasn't seen your best effort." So when I committed my time to a perspective change, the first thing that changed was my level of gratitude. I had to apply daily practices to not only recognize what I should be grateful for, but to replicate it as well. I'm not going to lie, I used to roll my eyes when my husband or mentor would talk to me about gratitude. I thought being grateful just meant to give up and settle for less. The surprise byproduct of becoming grateful was not only feeling thankful for what I had, but also feeling empowered to use it to make things better. I stopped seeing all the things I couldn't do and started seeing the things I could do. Not only could I do them, but I could actually do them well. After this revelation, I put a sign in my office right next to my door that says "I remember the days when I prayed for what I have now" to remind me that the moment I'm in is not an accident or a waste of time. Have I ever prayed to become a director of volleyball operations? No, I haven't. But what I did get was a great role with an unexpected job title.
I say all that to say this: I had to go over the river and through the woods before I found clarity and purpose in my job. It took two and a half years of frustration, confusion, failures, and prayer to learn what I have learned so far. So, why would someone who hasn't walked that journey, or seen you change of heart be able to understand how you feel now? I'm literally asking myself this. Paige, if this person that makes you feel like you're still at the bottom of the corporate ladder has no idea how hard you've worked, then why are you bothered by their comments? Well, maybe because I want people to be proud of me.
Concluding thought: it just might be possible that people are proud of me whether they have an understanding of what I do or not, and if they don't, I can just remind them, "don't worry, it's not for you".