I met with another woman in sports the other day to talk about some issues she'd been facing lately as a woman working in sports, and something she said really stuck out to me. She was talking about wanting a new job but, of course, with the COVID pandemic, that really wasn't likely for her at this time. She then said -- and this is what stuck with me -- that she's trying to use this time to bloom where she is planted.


I know this is a cliché; I know it might sound cheesy. But this phrase has been stuck with me for the last week or so since we spoke. And I think other people need to hear it.


The unfortunate reality is that this *IS* a weird time in the world, and not just for people in sports, though we all know it's been tough in this industry. Job loss, furloughs, pay cuts, and the loss of security and stability have taken a toll on all of us. Throw in financial concerns, Zoom fatigue, and whatever else we have going on in our personal lives, and WOW can it be hard to stay positive.


I'm not immune to this stuff either. I struggle (!) and try to be as open and honest about that as possible on social media and in conversations with coworkers and colleagues. However, I do think that a little perspective and acknowledgment of this cliché could go a long way.


Bloom where you are planted.


Things suck right now, there's no denying it. I know more than a handful of people that hoped to find a new role this summer, ask for a raise, or angle for a promotion in their yearly evaluation. Instead, they've been victims of COVID in ways that I'm not sure any of us saw coming.


If you're still employed but deeply (or even only mildly) unhappy, my advice is to tweak your attitude. We're living in unprecedented times but there is ALWAYS opportunity for growth, whether it be personal or professional. Understaffed? Maybe this is an opportunity to take on new responsibilities or learn a new skill. Bad boss? Take notes, my friend. Even a bad boss can teach you something. Overwhelmed? It's time for an open dialogue with your supervisor about how you're feeling, and then how you can prioritize and streamline your responsibilities.


If you're unemployed, there's still hope. In addition to dusting off that resume and cover letter, which I'm sure you've already done, there's ample opportunity for networking in the many many many online forums, panels, industry Slack channels, and Zoom calls. Plus, there are a ton of free resources available online if you want to hone your skills in pretty much any area. And if push comes to shove and you need a non-sports job to get you through this financially until the world is back on its axis, then you have to do what you have to do. The networking magic of Twitter, Zoom, LinkedIn, and Slack will still be here when you're able to rejoin us, and your colleagues will welcome you back with open arms.


I know that none of what I'm saying is easy, especially when we're all emotionally and mentally drained. But I will say that employed or not, having a positive attitude when everything else feels dark really can't hurt you, and -- at the very least -- it'll make you feel better. Isn't that worth it?



They say nothing good ever comes easy, and man, do I believe that.


Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the concept of time. Time. The one thing none of us can slow down or speed up; the one thing we can all agree is valuable.


I realized recently that all hard things take time. Not just good things, because some bad things take time, too. But in general, all difficult and important and things-that-can't-be-done-overnight things take time.


When's the last time that something important or impactful or life-changing came quickly? Winning the lottery can happen in an instant, sure, but even collecting your earnings and filing the taxes and managing the money takes time.


We're all in the trenches right now. Between a global health crisis, clear and obvious racism in the world, the uncertainty of our nation surrounding the upcoming presidential election, and the fact that most have us been stuck inside for the past six months, I think we can all agree that none of us are living our best lives.


And how have we been spending these six months? People I know and love have lost their jobs, their mental stability, their general sense of security, and the ability to see their loved ones without the use of 21st-century technology. Because of these things, many of those same people have lost the chance to take this time as an "opportunity" for self-improvement in any form. How could there be any time to focus on personal or professional development when you're just trying to get through the day in one piece?


Studies show that mental health is suffering across the country -- even the CDC has an entire section dedicated to information on coping with stress and anxiety. And yet, everyone I know is critiquing themselves and what they are doing (or not doing) to get through this. But guess what? Starting a new fitness regimen or finding a therapist or taking time to meditate or writing a novel or starting grad school or committing to a good cause or learning to quit drinking or to eat healthy or to stay off social media for more than 10 minutes is difficult even in the best of times. And now is certainly not the best of times!


This is a time for giving ourselves grace. For acknowledging that we're all experiencing a level of trauma, and that we're all experiencing it differently. It's a time for accepting that 2020 wasn't the year we planned for, and while it has, in fact, been a complete dumpster fire, it hasn't been a complete wash.


You may not have had time for self-improvement in the traditional sense, but I hope you've taken the time to give your heart, mind, and soul what it needs. To turn off the news when you feel overwhelmed or to look into tele-therapy or to get back into that hobby that makes you happy but gets pushed down the priority list when life is busy and "normal."


I hope you've learned how strong you are, how much you matter, and how to love yourself and treat yourself with respect and dignity.


I know this won't happen overnight. Just as self-improvement takes time, practicing self-love and giving yourself grace will take time.


Hard things take time. But you're worth it.






Where to begin?

I started a new job in late August 2019. The transition was rough, to say the least, and I fell off the wagon with the blog that I co-founded with my dear friend, Liv Coiro, called Sparkles and Sports. The year 2019 was a blur in itself, as my husband and I had welcomed a new baby boy to our family, I had taken maternity leave, returned to work, and then - of course - relocated my family for a new job halfway across the country.


But to be honest, the joy I'd felt when working on the S+S site had been waning for a while.


It's crazy to look back on, because we were really chugging. The staff -- Anastasia, Kristina, Candace, Bridgette, Hannah, Erin, Adrienne, Danielle, and Morgan had put so much time and effort into producing quality content for the site. And Jen, our editor, who carried the load when we needed her most; the site would have honestly crashed and burned without her. But collectively and wholeheartedly, the entire staff had such great ideas and truly wanted to make an impact on women working in sports. I loved every moment working with such incredible women, and it's what made saying goodbye the hardest.


Though I know Liv would agree in many ways, I can only speak for myself here. And co-managing a blog, as a new-mom, living in a new city, working a new job, quickly became too much. And if I'm being really honest with myself, I think it was a bit too much before all that happened, due to my own personal issues, as well as the fact that we were all overworked, underpaid, and spending whatever spare time we had either working on the blog or networking in other ways.


So it was at this point last year that we said goodbye (for now) to Sparkles and Sports. Looking back, it feels like yesterday while simultaneously feeling like a lifetime ago. The goal was never to leave it forever, but I think that now, almost one year and a thousand grey hairs later, plus COVID and all the other sh*t going on in the world, it's time to officially say goodbye to what the site once was.


To the staff, readers, and, of course, the anchors that kept the whole ship steady -- Olivia and Jen -- thank you for everything. Your support and love meant the world.


Katie



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