Lessons From My High-School Self

February 22, 2016

So far, my life has been split in two distinct phases: Living in the city, and living outside the city. I grew up in rural southern Minnesota, in a town of about 4,000 people. My life during that period mainly consisted of two things: school and sports. Back then, volleyball, track and figure skating were pretty much my life. I also listened to a lot of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I was cool.

My life in Minneapolis is a lot different. For starters, I’m WAY less healthy now. Instead of running around a track for several hours each day, I go to work, and then go out to a restaurant. Sometimes I watch Netflix or make Old Fashioneds at home. But a recent video my mom sent me got me thinking about how much that early (and active) part of my life taught me about the working world I live in today. While living in the middle of nowhere didn’t allow much room for a vast cultural education (i.e. my love for the Red Hot Chili Peppers), those hours on the playing field taught me a few lessons that were invaluable as I kicked off my career.

When you fall, you get up and try again. Figure skating taught me a lot about practice and rolling with the … bruises. In the 15 years I figure skated, I learned that while good things come from hard work, no matter how many hours you practice, you never know what will happen when you’re on the spot. I fell a lot (see above video) and I had to learn to get back up and press on. This lesson was very helpful when I graduated from college in 2011 and the job market was a nightmare.

Criticism sucks, but it’s necessary for improvement. I had a pretty tough volleyball coach. He expected perfection from us, and when he didn’t get it we paid for it the next day. Learning how to not take criticism personally takes time, but getting yelled at for hitting the ball into the net several hundred times over the course of four years really helped lessen the blow the first time an editor told me that I needed to rewrite an entire story I worked so hard to finish.

You’ve got to do you. Sports are rife with weird superstitions and routines. While I’m not positive that the weird, spazzy leg movements I did before the long jump made any kind of real difference, learning what behaviors keep you calm and focused are an important part of being successful in any industry.

Be nice to people, we’re all in this together. Especially when you’re younger, it’s easy to think of your peers as opponents rather than teammates. Thinking of those around you as opportunities to make yourself better, rather than people you need to prove something to, will build you up, and make everyone better — that goes for both sports, and for work.  

Winning feels good. Don’t be fooled by my previous point. I am competitive AF. In my opinion, there is no better feeling than working hard and being able to feel proud of the end result. I have to say, winning feels just as good now as when I finally beat that girl in the hurdles (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, VICTORIA).

Don’t forget where you came from. After watching that video my mom sent me, I realized I hadn’t put on my skates in two years. Just because you move from one thing to another in life doesn’t mean you should forget all the things you learned along the way. As a teenager, skating was always a great stress reliever for me, and it’s pretty sad that I let something that meant so much to me for so long fall to the wayside just because i’m an adult now. I’m working on it, though! My skates (and legs) were pretty rusty, but I’m happy to say that stepping onto the ice still feels as good as it did ten years ago.

A very out of practice figure skater.

A video posted by @maggielamaack on