I am not a great skier, but I never fall.
I was a successful brownie and a guide that eventually dropped out due to my refusal to conform.
If you combine two statements about me, it all but completely sums up my personality. Sheer willpower keeps me on my feet, but I never quite got good at skiing. I am nervous of ice, steep hills, stray junk on the hills, and well. . mostly falling and anything that could cause falling. And hurting myself badly. But also, I am afraid of looking foolish or unable to cope with what is in front of me.
In guides and brownies, you had an opportunity to earn badges which you then sewed on your sash. If you didn’t wear your sash, you earned demerits. Therefore, you HAD to wear your badges outs in front of everyone that showed all of the badges you’ve earned. It wasn’t bragging, it was mandatory display of facts. I could show the world how awesome I was and be protected from being a braggart. And if this didn’t motivate young Susan! My mother had to implement a rule that I could only work on 5 badges at a time. I was so fettered as a child. Sigh.
But I parted ways with guides when it became obvious to me that they wanted people to conform and I didn’t want to. I *had* to wear a uniform (not pants instead of the skirt), I *had* to show up all the time and I *had* to follow the rules. Conforming – especially when it is something I don’t really want to do – is not in my make-up. I thrive on being different, being contrary and being individual. And so the badges – and really, how many more could I earn – didn’t outweight the conformity aspect. And when my mother told me I had to either follow the rules or quit, I quit.
So, when faced with spin class tonight – which happens to be taught by my current boss at work (yes, that is weird a little isn’t it?) – I certainly was not going to fail in front of her, another co-worker that takes the class regularly or in front of other toned up peeps there. She started the class out by letting people know there were 7 tracks and that if this was your first class, stopping after 3 or 4 would be a great accomplishment.
Whatever. Like I am going to stop after 4 tracks. That could be 1 or more of 3 things that I don’t do:
- Looking foolish and being unable to cope with what is in front of me
- Missing an opportunity to prove to myself that I am awesome (and letting others know a little too)
- Conforming to the persona of being out of spin shape (despite 18+ months hiatus of taking any challenging spin class)
So, there was a guy that left after 3 tracks. He looked a cliche January-er, but he made it to class and maybe next time he’ll get further. And that is my honest reaction – I didn’t think he looked foolish, or that he wasn’t awesome or that he was conforming. I thought, good for you buddy, this is tough. But then I went back to focusing on me and the *must* of completing the task well.
And I see that all the time in my life. I like it a lot when my team members are awesome, but I know they can be awesome and make mistakes. I know that they need to be able to raise their hands and ask for help – and when they do, I don’t think they can’t cope or they are foolish.
So why the double standard? I don’t know, but I really think we should wear badge sashes at work – I would accomplish so much.
January 14th, 2013 Extra-Ordinary: You bet I did the class – the whole damn thing and took no easier options (other than tension adjustments sometimes). I’m awesome, I can cope and I didn’t look foolish (mostly). I need to lay down now.