Friday, December 5, 2014

A blond's logic on racism.

NOTE: please don't start a large debate on this. It's my opinion. I realize others might disagree and have other views on racism. However, I am willing to listen to what opinions are out there. If they are fact based.

So by opening up this blog post I take it you really want to know what blond logic I have to offer towards racism? 

Well, here it is:

The webster definition of racism is: 

 poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race; the belief that some races of people are better than others.

With the recent protests and court case involving the Ferguson case, I personally have no idea of the details of what happened. I don't know what went through the minds of the parties involved. All I know is that it sparked a seemingly nation wide protest concerning racism.

The only way to truly have racism end is if everyone was blind and deaf. No one would be able to hear accents. No one would be able to see differences. All what we would know is that there would be others around us.

So what's a more realistic approach to racism? 
(because let's face it, I love to talk and I'd like to be able to see what's going on around me so I don't fall flat on my face when I'm walking somewhere)

well, until everyone is willing to sit together in a giant circle and sing kum-ba-ya, there isn't an easy way to solve this problem.

We've got to, as a nation, be more understanding of not just other cultures, but other people. We've got to judge less, be more open minded, and not jump to conclusions. 

Just because there's a white girl, doesn't mean that Starbucks is her number one place to go to after the gym.

Just because someone is African-American doesn't mean that all they listen to is rap.

Just because someone is latino and doesn't speak english mean that they are illegal.

And who is to blame for setting up stereotypes? 
All of us. We are all guilty.

So ladies and gentlemen, whatever race you define yourself as, my honest logical approach to racism is to instead of  fighting each other is to sit together at a table, each person bring in their favorite dish, and start understanding these differences that we've used to draw lines. In the end, you might find if you close your eyes but open your mind, we have no need for racism. Something will always offend someone, it's enviable. However, imagine a world where our cultures were actually combined in "the great american melting pot."? 

I've learned a lot from my friends from literally all over the world and from multiple ethnic back grounds. I continue to learn more as I meet more people.

So I challenge you with my blond logic towards racism.

How much are you willing to take a moment and learn about the stranger sitting next to you on the subway? How much are you willing to take a moment and understand that different isn't wrong? For are we really afraid of each other or are we afraid of what we will become if we would actually close our eyes and open our minds.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What I realized when Michael Phelps got his second DUI.

I can't believe I'm about to "somewhat defend" someone who got a DUI.

What's worse, I can't believe I'm about to down talk the people blasting the guy who got the DUI.

Go ahead. Judge me.

I'm sure all swimmers have heard the news that Michael Phelps got a DUI.
I'm sure everyone (swimmers and non-swimmers) know the consequences of drinking and driving.

I'm not saying that it's good that Michael Phelps got a DUI. In fact, it doesn't make him look that great at all.

I am saying that maybe we aren't being good role models either.

But wait, we didn't get the DUI.

Guess what, we all know someone who has had a DUI before.

Yet for some reason we don't say "you should have known better to drink and drive" in fact, some people laugh it off and treat it as some hilarious story to share.

So why, if we joke about DUIs with friends do we suddenly turn around and blast a "celebrity"? Is it because they are "expected" to be perfect? Please. Everyone should be expected to try to achieve perfection. But reality is, no one is perfect and we've all made less than perfect decisions.

So in the end, yes Michael Phelps got a DUI again.

And yes, the situation could have ended up much more dramatic.

And no, I am not saying that drinking and driving should be something to just blow off.

But, shouldn't we learn a lesson from this also?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Breaking Bad News

A high school athlete stares blankly up as he is told he won't be able to play this season. He's physically strong, having survived hellish conditions to prepare for a season of a lifetime. He's mentally strong, having the determination to survive the hellish conditions and do so without thinking about quitting.

His body starts to shake and his eyes start to grow red as he fights back tears with nothing but his pride.

As I turn around to leave the room and see the next patient, I catch glimpse of his walls tumbling down. His pride fails him. His strength to stay strong slips away. His head falls into his open hands and he tries to take in a steady breath but its shaky.

As an athlete myself, I know how this pain feels. It's like breaking up with someone, but worse. You've spent literally your whole life dedicated to this sport. Hanging out with friends after school? Can't. Practice. Parties on the weekend? Can't. Games/matches/meets. Sleeping in? Morning Practices.

Suddenly, it's taken away from you.

This athlete got lucky, he's only out for one season. Yet, countless athletes recieve news that sends them spiraling into a whirlwind of emotions. The news that they are never allowed to participate in their sport again.

Cross country runners who have no more cartilage left in their knees and have to start wondering about replacement surgeries.

Football and soccer players who receive one too many concussions and have to stop or else face more severe traumatic brain injuries.

Swimmers who completely tear rotator cuff muscles in shoulders and loose mobility in the shoulder joint.

Explaining to athletes that their career is over (temporarily or determinately) isn't hard to do. Once you explain the injury, you can read on their faces that they are about to ask "this means I'm out right?"

Explaining that their life isn't over, that's the tricky part. Somehow you have to explain if it's a temporary "break" in their career that they are still in for another season in the future. You have to explain that it's better to rest the injury than to train through it and be out for life (then again, telling an athlete to rest is like telling a paparazzi to stop stalking celebrities. It doesn't fly well.).

For those who are out of their sport for life, it's scary. One of the worst case scenarios, depression takes over. If they truly care about their sport, try to show them how they can still be involved with their sport outside of being an athlete. Coaching? Mentoring? Sports Medicine? These are all ways that they can be part of their sport without having to compete.

True, nothing will ever take the place of stepping up onto the blocks/onto a field and feeling that killer adrenalin rush as everything you've worked for comes down to what sometimes is less than 30 seconds.

However, sitting around thinking your life just ended is pretty much doing exactly what you wish you never had to do, completely quit on your sport.

Explaining this to athletes of all levels is a struggle. (The struggle is real). You're no longer dealing with coaches or with parents. It comes down to the patient. It really is like you're the messenger from your patients significant other (that being the sport they participate in) and the message you're telling them is that the relationship between you and your sport is over (thanks to the injury).

 This, honestly, is what I believe would be the hardest part of being a Sports Physician.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I met God this summer

A patient walks into an Pre-OP room and soon after being prepped for surgery, the surgeon walks in. He makes his mark on the patient and comforts him/her. The patient has severe arthritis and cannot walk because of the pain in his/her knees. The surgeon is given the task of allowing the patient to walk again. To most people, a knee replacement doesn't seem like something that could be declared a miracle. I beg to differ. After spending over 135 hours shadowing an Orthopedic Surgeon and his PA, I believe in miracles and I believe even more in God.

I met numerous patients this summer.

  My favorite one I saw throughout my entire two month stay in the Rome Orthopedic Clinic. She was in her early nineties and wanted a knee replacement. She said she needed a knee replacement. When asked why, she smiled. Her sister, still living, was 101 years old. The patient wanted to outlive her sister and needed to keep walking. In order to keep walking, she needed a new knee.

When asked what would happen if she wasn't able to outlive her sister, she smiled again. Her reply brought tears to both the surgeon and I. She was going to live forever because God had given her everlasting life. However, if God one day decided to take that away from her and call her into heaven, she wanted to do God a favor. 

(Here's the part where you're going to need tissues).

Since God has always walked beside her throughout her life, she didn't want to have God push her around in a wheel chair in heaven. She wanted to return the favor and walk next to God if she was called into heaven.

She did get her knee replacement. And she's still got her everlasting life.

She wasn't the only patient I remember. I met countless people who came to the clinic to seek relief and be able to walk again. 

I heard stories that both touched me in a way that inspired me, and stories that brought me to tears. I saw how some people in abusive relationships live in fear with the concept that they have nothing or no one to turn to. When meeting the surgeon in the ER, fear filled her eyes. Afraid of surgery, she asks the surgeon one simple question... Can you pray for me so I'll be alright?

I'm pretty sure all the nurses heard that question and multiple heads tilted downward in silent prayer. 

The surgeon told her God is a good man.

The patient smiled, her mind slowly letting go of fears. "I know he is. He's the best man I know. He's the reason you're my surgeon."

I always believed in God, but I had my doubts about how he performed miracles. I read about "miracles" online, in newspapers, and heard of them on the news. Then I spent a summer in an OR (operating room) and I will honestly say I met God this summer. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

An old fashioned take on education from a modern generation

Maybe I'm a bit old-fashioned compared to current middle and high school students, but after learning that programs would be replaced with the option of "virtual high school classes" or even just completely taken away I think I'm going to state my opinion... Even if no one asked for it.

Let's face it, the biggest struggle with today's generation isn't war or economic depression. It's the ability to communicate. Wait? Communicate? But it's so easy! We've got the ability to text people all over the world, send out emails, share photographs, post videos, and forget that we are talking to people instead of a screen.

What would it be like if we took away all technology from a class room? Let's say a tornado comes through and knocks the power out of most of Cedartown. Power crews can't get to everything and it'll be at least a week till power is restored down town. Naturally, one would say let's cancel school till power is restored. What if AP exams were to start within two weeks?

Remember, teachers can't post anything online and students can't access anything.

 Also, no electronic devices can be recharged.

What would happen if students were actually told to work together on hands on projects? In college, not everything is done on a computer screen. Class debates over paper copies of the New York Times and not being allowed to cite the online copies? Yes, that really did happen this past year.

Text books are heavy. I carried around four text books and countless binders every day in high school.

Guess what, I'm doing the same thing in college. I have an iPad. The amount of educational stuff on it is the bare minimum... actually, the only thing slightly educational on it are the books that I have on ibooks... none of them for a class.

And I still prefer to read a paper book with coffee than on a screen.

Canceling programs though, it's the worst thing that could be done. Programs that allow students to learn critical skills such as marketing so that they can return to Polk County to help the economy and have an idea of future careers. Canceling programs that introduce and take students to places such as Los Angeles, California, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Orlando, Florida, is like ripping up scholarships. Don't believe me? Colleges love to see students who go to national competitions. Student love meeting the CEOs of Men's Warehouse and Johnson and Johnson Pharmacy. And best of all, the students work for these opportunities.

Canceling the very program that BROUGHT COLLEGES to Cedartown? Can someone please explain to me how that is going to open students' eyes?

Canceling programs that give students the chance to go to Germany? Seriously? Take a minute to look out at the students of Polk County. Look at the socio-economic demographics. How many of them are ever going to get another chance to go to Germany and see a different country?

Yet, maybe I'm old fashioned. Maybe I still believe that the best conversations are held face to face away from screens. Maybe I still believe that teachers are meant to teach in a class room. Maybe I still believe that the best way to learn is to be in a hands on situation with text books. Maybe I still believe that technology will never replace having a teacher guide you, having a teacher answer questions, having a teacher work countless hours to explain something till the students explain it, having a teacher sacrifice their time and weekends to provide students with a once in a lifetime experience to discover themselves. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but maybe it's time we all put down our screens and thought if the decisions that we make are going to help or if they are actually killing the very thing that gave students hope of getting out of Cedartown and coming back?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sketchy and Shady: Mislabeled

"Stay away from that person, they look shady."

"Don't go into that neighborhood, it's sketchy."

Yet, some of my best friends in high school lived in what people referred to as "Sketchy" Neighborhoods.

The best audiences I've had when teaching about water safety were those filled with "shady" people.

Maybe it's just that I'm oblivious to the definition of "shady" and I spend too much time seeing the good in everything, but why should it be a bad thing?

Last year, I walked into a Rome, Georgia community center to teach students from all levels of public schooling to be safe around water.

Then neighborhood was poor. I mean poor. like dirt poor. like you should get the point by now poor. I got stares the second my car pulled into sight.

When I walked in, I got a glare from one mother in particular and I knew what she was thinking. "What is that upper-class white girl doing in this part of town?"

It just so happened that her daughter was in one of my classes that I taught that day. When the classes were finished, the mother came up to me.

She told me the sweetest thing I had ever heard.

"Someone in our family drowned last summer. Ever since then I've been afraid of the water. It got to the point where I wouldn't let any of my kids even think about swimming. You've opened my eyes that I shouldn't fear the water. Best of all, you've done something that I don't think I could have done - you got my kids to stop fearing the water."

After one week of teaching the classes, I learned why the parents looked rough. I also learned that the kids are also just like the parents - treat them with respect and you earn your respect.

I know I could have acted completely different in the neighborhood and came close to getting shot. However, sometimes it's good to be oblivious to that fear.

I'll be honest, I'm not afraid to go into a sketchy neighborhood. I'm not afraid to meet "shady" people. Because something else that I've learned is:

maybe those of us who claim that others are "sketchy" and "shady" are more "sketchy" and "shady" than the ones they label.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

P.S. Cedartown

So it's been almost two months since I wrote "Dear Cedartown" and a lot's been going on.

I hope all the high school students are looking forward to walking across the field. It's definitely a moment that takes a while to sink in, but signifies that you are ready (whether you realize it or not) to move on and start carving your own road.

I was browsing through Facebook (procrastinating like the typical college student) when I came across an article from the Polk County Fish Wrap (Cedartown Standard) about a fight being caught on camera by a middle school student in Rockmart and that the school district was responding. I'll be honest, that wasn't what caught my attention. (Let's face it, fights happen at every school. It doesn't matter what socio-economic level the school or the population is from). The fact that the fight was recorded didn't surprise me either (again, look on youtube and you'll find fights from all across the nation). What did catch my attention was this part right here:

"Hunter said Polk County Schools will take part in a Anderson Cooper 360 investigative program along with other schools in Georgia on bullying. He said the program will be starting in the fall, and was a decision made months ago by the system. Teems said letters about the program will be going to out parents soon."

You guys know what this means? Cedartown and Rockmart going to be seen on a NATIONAL level. (Yes, you read right. National Level.)

Most people might have conflicting opinions about this, but I'm right now going to brag about Cedartown (and about the little I know of Rockmart).

I know what some people are thinking: Brag? About Cedartown? WTF?

Yes, bullying happens pretty much everywhere; it doesn't go away in college (ever heard of hazing?). Also, the act of bullying is open to interpretation. What someone might think is just teasing, might be bullying to the victim.

However, I think one of the benefits of Polk County (Rockmart and Cedartown both) being close knit and "small" towns is that everyone knows someone. While some might think this is the perfect way for people to spread rumors, it's actually the perfect way to stop it.


Well, if you're in a conversation (online or face to face) and somebody begins to "bully" you're friend - no one is afraid to respond with a post or comment to say stop. It's like a giant buddy system. Everyone looks out for each other. Yeah, there are slip ups, but let's face it, what system is perfect (and don't say the government)?

Let's take marching band for example. I've had section leaders in the past notice a rookie being picked on more than he/she was used to in previous environments. The section leaders made sure to end it, simply by saying "you were a rookie too", or something of that nature. It wouldn't only be section leaders stopping teasing, fellow classmates/upperclassmen would to. Often the instigator wouldn't realize they were making the victim uncomfortable, but once they were made aware of it they quickly stopped and apologized for his/her actions.

So as information begins to be released about Polk County being on the investigation program, I'll say with full confidence:

While there is bullying present (it's inevitable in any environment. My sister and I our relationship could be considered bullying if you didn't know us), there is a stronger sense of a bond that allows for any bullying present to end before it becomes a problem. Marching band was just the one example I witnessed first hand.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Failure is Inevitable

On Thursday, March 20th, I had the privilege of sitting in a lecture with Mr. James Carville and Mrs. Mary Matalin. Both worked as political consultants, but I don't want to address  politics. In that lecture, I learned some pretty key things. Things that I believe should be shared.

Failure is not something to fear. It happens to everyone. Just think about something you've always wanted to do. Now, think about all the reasons why you can't. Are they reasons or are they excuses?

Mr. Carville pointed out that it is better to be in the arena and taste defeat than to be an onlooker and never have stepped into the arena. Let's face it. What do we have to loose if we get up and try? If we fail, so what. We loose our pride. However, we gain humility. If we try, we can look at all of our critics and say "at least I had the guts to do something."

People in our generation are pretty lucky. We have social media. We just need to use it to our advantage. Everyone knows how rapidly things spread on the internet. A post that I wrote earlier this week received over 3,500 views after only being online for 72 hours. That's amazing. Before social media, think about how hard it would have been to reach that many people in just 3 days. Shocking right?

Our generation is far from lost. We claim we don't have some great war or some depression, but honestly, we don't need it. We've got a social revolution. We are changing ways of mass communication, learning that being open-minded and understanding not just what people believe, but why they believe it is the key to being able to not only have respect for each other but to work together despite our differences.

We are leaders. We are all smart. We have the ability to change things. We just have to be willing to work. We don't need to think that if we stand up and vocalize our opinion that it means we are basically going to get shot down for being wrong. We have the power to change that outlook on things. We can sit down and talk about issues without bringing up who paid the most for rent or what someone had for dinner.

So, if failure is something that we fear, so be it. However, it shouldn't prevent us from stepping into the arena.

Mr. Carville summed up the lecture with some wise words from Theodore Roosevelt. I'll conclude with the same ones.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dear Cedartown,

Dear Cedartown,

It's been close to a year since I graduated from Cedartown High School, and I've learned a lot about how people see our town from the outside looking in. Quite honestly, people seem to remember the bad things more than the good.

Why am I bringing this up?

Have any of the locals read the paper? Let's face it, a weapon of any kind in a middle school gives a pretty shady image of the community. The phrase "one bad apple spoils the whole bunch" is true. If you were a parent who was choosing between moving to either Cedartown or another area, you wouldn't want to send your child to a school where a weapon was found.

Another incident that happened very recently, the sexting case. Congrats. Read the comments on shared links on Facebook. I won't lie, I laughed a bit at the article. I actually found myself thinking "well this would be the one thing missing from our school." However, it's not funny. It's not even funny that my first thought was that the situation would have been the one thing missing from my Alma Mater.

Cedartown, please clean up your act. If you think something doesn't impact you, it does. If an outsider looking in doesn't see how successful our band program is, the amazing productions of the drama department, how far our football team has made it, and how the academics are steadily improving and is first greeted by all of the negative, we've got bigger problems than fixing a road. Business come where employees would be willing to call home. The majority of people want to live somewhere safe (socially, physically, and mentally).

So now I'm asking honestly if people at home truly care about Cedartown. Yeah, everyone wants to get out. I know that. I can probably guess a lot of the reasons why people say the same thing still today. "There isn't anything to do here." "I'm so tired of doing the same thing over and over again."

And honestly, there isn't as much to do in Cedartown as there is in Rome. However, here's a list of what all can be done:

Midnight runs to waffle house/huddle house (after sporting events at the high school I know this was popular)

Band concerts (come on people, it's a great program and the concerts are FREE)

CHS Drama Department Productions (If the acting cast is anything like I remember, you won't regret any dime spent on attending one of these)

Go workout with some friends (ex: running at the park, biking on the silver comet trail) and then support the LOCAL economy by going to Top This afterwards.

The arts festival always draws huge crowds along with the 5k.

Go watch the Road Race that comes through Cedartown. We have local olympians who participate in it. (Yes, I did say Cedartown is a place that an Olympian calls home).

And this list doesn't include sporting events, relay for life,, etc...

Still not enough, why don't we encourage students to create their own projects for community service and/or starting their own business? The students are creative enough, but lets face it, getting through all the hoops can be a bit of a struggle if you don't know which one to go through.

Another thing before I get off my soap box. Why not try to have at least one positive event about the community reach the front page of the local paper every week? It's going to take some hard work by everyone. Students of all levels of schooling, community service organizations, and people of ALL socio-economic standings. It's not impossible though.

So Cedartown, please try to clean up your image. I want to say that I'm proud to have been a part of Cedartown and can recommend Cedartown for others to visit.

A very concerned graduate of Cedartown High School.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Aren't we forgetting something?

Thoughts of a Berry College Freshman Student-Athlete:

So we've all heard of something going on during the winter olympics in Sochi. We watched countries win medals, stories of athletes that can inspire anyone, and we watched as these athletes accomplished dreams. After the closing ceremonies our attention drew back to politics and whatever else happened to be concerning the world (Miley Cyrus, 2014 elections, et.)... and we forgot about the second round of winter olympics. Society forgot about the Winter Para-olympics.

When someone suffers an injury that they "cannot" fully recover from, we, the non-injured and non-disabled, have a tendency to stare. Let's face it - we are all guilty. Yet, we stare when they struggle. We rarely help them if we see them struggling. We often watch until someone gets the guts to break out of their "trance" to help the person.

Yet, we don't watch their success.

Nothing is more powerful, in my opinion, than seeing someone overcome challenges that are far beyond their control. Some of them were born with these challenges. Others received these challenges after an accident or illness of some sort.

Watching the para olympics reminds me of multiple things that we all should take into consideration...

1) Don't complain about having to do more work/harder work. Imagine how it would be, say, without an arm or leg. Be thankful for what you have.

2) Don't say "I can't". If people who are basically told they will never walk again can make it to the olympics for playing hockey and win gold - what's stopping you? Is it really that you can't or is it that you don't want to put forth the worth?

3) If there is a will, there is a way. Those who travel the road less traveled to find that way tend to be the strongest people in the world. When they break down crying after winning an olympic medal - realize there's more to what they have done than just competing on the international stage. They probably were told by multiple doctors "you can't". They had to fight twice as hard (at least) to be able to hear the words "you can" from someone.

I truly believe that it's the para-olympics that carry more of the olympic spirit that the highly viewed olympics. So now I wonder, why do we turn our eyes away from the success stories of the true athletes? Why do we simply forget that there is still another two weeks of intense competition going on after the first round of the Sochi Winter Olympics? Is it because we are afraid of seeing success? Are we ignorant because we see these athletes as "different"?

So next time you choose what you want to watch on television - you can watch the same stories over and over about politics, nonsense in Hollywood, drama on capital hill, or try to watch something that will actually get you inspired and realizing how lucky you are.

I say we stop "forgetting" about the para-olympics and cheer on the real athletes.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Hate or Dire Need of Changing Perspective?

It happens to the best of us. We grow tired of something - a place, a person, a city, a friend - and we start to say things that we say we mean. But do we?

I had a professor "bash" my hometown once. It was a minor comment that passed by a lot of the class, but it struck me harshly. True, the stereotype of a lot of things in my hometown has a very deep negative connotation, but it's still home to me.

Cedartown is filled with the majority of "Rednecks". Then again, if anyone in the state of Georgia had any sense of looking around past city centers - most of the people who have always lived in the rural areas and have family history leading back to the civil war or earlier could be considered rednecks.

When people make a comment about how Cedartown is really poor and the people are dumb, I honestly want to take a stand (and not a music one either). True, Cedartown isn't the richest town - especially compared to Rome, Ga. However, there are some benefits to being a small town community that won't be found anywhere else.

1st. Find me one town that rallies behind a hurt athlete for not just a few days - but for over 4 months and continues to support him.

2nd. Find me a town that who's supportive of every single extracurricular activity in some form or fashion. Hometown heroes aren't millionaires. They are the students who are role models for younger kids. They are the everyday people who make a difference without ever realizing it - the first responders, teachers, and anyone who turns a bad day around.

3rd. Find me a town who's hopes ride with those who exceed and are willing to change the world. It's not shown a lot, and the road isn't easy. However, once someone is willing to prove that they want to do something to do something with their lives, eventually someone will find a door that will stay open to help him or her.

4th. Everyone knows everyone. You can't get hurt without everyone asking if you are alright and if you need something. You can't get away with a lie, and if they ask you something it's best to just say it like it is. Friends gathering together isn't just a secluded clic - everyone knows everyone so you find the biggest area to have bonfires, paint wars, etc. and meet up.

5th. The best part about Cedartown is that once you make it through high school there, you can overcome anything thrown at you. You learn not only how to work with people, you learn to understand them. You realize that money isn't needed to have a good time and it surely doesn't buy happiness.

After that professor called out my hometown, I thought and realized I can't hate a place that helped shape me the way that I am. Yeah, I didn't have some of the opportunities that might have been available if I lived in a "high class" area, but I learned lessons that I don't think I would have been able to learn anywhere else.

So next time you think that you hate something, what is it that you hate? Is it really that one thing, or is it your perspective?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Taking the road less traveled: Hard Work or Hard to Motivate?

Yesterday I posted on my Facebook account the following status:

"Thoughts of a college freshman:

What if for every dream we have inspired as a society, we helped become a reality? For the young Olympic watchers who want to one day have a gold medal of their own: why do we encourage them to dream this but then not put forth the effort to help them. Why is it that kids who dreamed of becoming leaders and changing the world are growing up and thinking "I can't because it's impossible."? We need to break the idea of hard meaning impossible. Just because something is hard, doesn't mean it can't be done. I challenge us as a society to stop working against dreams and show that roads less traveled aren't the easiest but they are far from impossible.

Who's to tell us what the human mind and body cannot accomplish?"

Now, let me expand on this...

It honestly kills me when I see people who I once went to school with who I remember saying that they wanted to be architects, lawyers, world class musicians, doctors, top of the line athletes, and change the world, end up doing one or some combination of the following: drop out of high school, drop out of college, claim "it's too hard" or say "I'm not smart enough". If you really want to achieve something, it's not going to get done by quoting and moving on to something easier - like getting a minimum wage job and saying "who needs an education" or "I'm not good enough to reach a goal."

Yet, this happens. It happens a lot. I grew up in a town much like the one that resembles the town of Coal Wood in the awesome movie "October Skies." While my hometown wasn't a coal mining town, the attitude was pretty much the same. A few people would make it out on a football scholarship. The rest would end up sticking around.

I'm not blaming a sole person for a lack of motivation for kids achieving goals. I am blaming society as a whole. We spend so much time telling kids they can be anything they want when they grow up. When they enter middle and high school, that mind set shifts. Many students become unmotivated through either financial setbacks, trying to "fit in" with a certain clic, or they honestly become lazy.

How can we prevent this lack of motivation in students? If you ask me, ask a student the first day of school what they want to be once they are "grown up." Have them set some long term goals. Then, don't just place those goals in a "I wasn't going to forget about you but I am going to" pile. Work with the students, help them find internships, projects, and additional materials that they can be a part of. If money is an issue, help them find scholarships. 

Don't ever tell someone "You can't do this because it would be too hard and I don't have the time to help you."

If you honestly don't have the time, ask the student if he or she would be willing to speak to someone else about the subject and direct them to that person. If it's too hard, let the student find that out themselves. Will power to achieve something is a strength that cannot be measured.

Next time a kid answers the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" with something that seems outrageous or that it would take a lot of work, don't say "It's too hard." Why? That kid has seen someone else do it and wants to get on that level. Whether it's winning a gold medal, being a musician, or becoming a lawyer, doctor, architect,  etc., who are we to shoot down someone's dreams?