Why is it that the professional world is one that expects praise but no pain? Individuals are allowed to laud the promotions, new jobs, and any bevy of new opportunities, but they are not given space to express other concerns associated with these opportunities. I’m guilty of feeling like I am not allowed to feel remorse about an internship or moving across the country to go to a top graduate school, but without doubt how can we truly reaffirm the things we know and believe? We’re told to look at the glass as half full and not half empty, but while people are pondering perspectives of the glass, shouldn’t we be trying to fill it back up to the top one way or another?
Making the most out of an internship, an entry level job, a degree, etc. is as much about giving it our all in the office, classroom, etc., as it is about using the negative feelings to understand yourself and find out what situations will fit you better going forward. The same way that college is about so much more than what is going on in the classroom, we have to treat our early experiences, positive and negative, as ways to navigate the future. Going into a situation trying to bottle up inevitable negative feelings is like overinflating tires as a good way to make sure they don’t go flat. Eventually one of those tires is going to burst.
There is a disparity between the ideas of what an opportunity will be and reality of these opportunities is vast. It is one thing to be pessimistic about our circumstances and another to be pragmatic and allowing ourselves the room to navigate our experiences for what they are and not what we think they should be. After making my first major career decision and moving across the country, I’ve had my first taste of one of the realities in the athletics industry of being willing to move and take advantage of good opportunities. Still, even if an opportunity is beyond belief, there’s the normal human doubt that has to come with it. Why am I doing this? Why didn’t I just go get a job? These thoughts are so normal and yet, as people, many feel guilt for feeling doubt in great opportunities.
The concept I’m suggesting can be categorized under the umbrella of emotional intelligence. I strongly encourage reading “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman to better understand this small portion and the entire concept in depth. Ultimately, the importance of networking, putting your best foot forward, etc. are all mentioned consistently, but no one talks about what to do on a day where you’re just down. Of course I’m not suggesting anyone look to find negative emotions about their experiences, but we must be prepared to navigate them on a personal level, and in turn perpetuate a systemic understanding. That way we can feel the pain of our opportunities and praise them all the same.
Erick Taylor is an aspiring college sports professional and MPSA candidate attending Texas A&M University. Originally from the Greater Atlanta area, Erick received his bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University, where he also served as a development intern for the Panther athletic department. A young, relatively inexperienced prospect in this industry, Erick is in search of the tools and skills required for success. By sharing his journey, he hopes to help others achieve their professional goals as well.