Success, with Style

Posts tagged “Success

Trying to be a runner again is not like “riding a bike”

Posted on October 22, 2015

I went running this morning and it was brutal.

I set a modest goal: run from my home to the park 6 blocks north, run intervals around the track twice, and then run back home.

One and a half block into my run, I felt bones and muscles in my bodies that I should not feel. Like, the bones in the bottom of my left foot and my ankles. I like my life better when I know that I have functioning limbs and muscles, but without knowing they are there, doing their job.

I ran the Chicago Half Marathon three years ago and started training for the Bank of America marathon the following year. Six miles into my ten mile run, my left knee tapped me on my shoulder and yelled, “BITCH, YOU GUESSED IT!”

(If you don’t know where that gem comes from, check out Kid Fury and Crissle of The Read podcast.)

I hobbled, tried to run slowly, tried stretching, limped, prayed, tried to run again. Finally, I had to accept my reality: I was badly injured in a way that I had never felt before. I limped the four miles back home, cried a little, and tried to figure out what to do next.

After a trip to my doctor, who sent me to a podiatrist, who sent me to a physical therapist, a diagnosis of illiotibial band (IT band) syndrome, and months of not being able to run more than 20 minutes on the treadmill without feeling pain, I was finally able to run outside again, but only for 30 minutes.

I realized after experiencing that injury that not only did it halt my training, but it also debilitated my confidence. Running five miles used to be nothing for me, but during that injury, it hurt to walk up and down stairs.

I gained weight and insecurity. Running was one of the best things to happen to me. It was meditative. I realized about two years ago that instead of being meditative, running became a source of anxiety. I was literally afraid to run. Not because I thought I would be injured again, but because I was afraid of failing. I was afraid that I would set a running goal and I would not meet it. I’ve intermittently met that fear head on for the last two years, and not always successfully.

So when I left my home this time with my modest running goal, it was not only a decision to get in some much needed cardio, to release some stress, and to find my love of running again, but it was also a decision to confront a fear of failure.

I made it to the park and hit the track. My intent was to sprint the straight and jog the curve two times.

My ankles and left foot showed up that morning like,”Oh, hey, girl. Just stopping by to make your run is a living hell.”

I sprinted the straight the first time and heard myself wheezing. The wheezing was a mixture of unattractive mouth-breathing and a little bit of asthma.

I got my breathing under control and jogged the curved. Then I mentally prepared to sprint the curve again, and hit my sprint. I was much slower than I used to be. I jogged the curve. Barely breathing, I remembered how I first started running four years ago on the treadmill at the gym. When I enrolled at the gym, the trainer explained to me that the best way to increase my endurance was interval training. He told me to jog for 2 minutes and run for 1 minute and to repeat this process 10 times. Running intervals that first time was hard as hell but within a year, I ran a half marathon and was having a pretty good time doing it.

Running was hard when I first started. I kept at it, struggled, learned, and improved.

I’ll have to do the same thing this time around.

What to do when you have a “ghetto” name

Posted on October 6, 2015

It wasn’t until law school that someone told me to my face that my name, Takeia, was considered “ghetto.” Until that point, all I knew was my name and that I required people to pronounce it correctly if they were going to talk to me. Five-year-old Takeia held lessons in classrooms and on playgrounds on how to pronounce my name: Ta-kee-uh. When I was younger, I don’t think I knew why I demanded that recognition, but now I know: your name is often the first glimpse into your identity that people have.

 

 

As the poet says in the video, I demanded that people pronounce my name correctly or not say it at all.

 

In law school, when professors would call on me, they would say my first name. They almost always got it wrong the first time. I corrected them, and would not allow them to move on to whatever question they had until they got my name right.

 

Yes, I had the audacity to require recognition before I proceeded in any relationship with you, even if that relationship was for three fleeting minutes in which I presented the facts, issue(s), holding and reasoning of a case. For those that persisted in incorrectly pronouncing my name, I let them know they have the option of calling me Ms. Johnson instead.

 

Although I have a decidedly Black-sounding name, I have still achieved numerous goals. I can’t say, however, what levels of success I might have reached or what opportunities were foreclosed to me, simply because of my name. Even though I can’t identify where I have been denied access and opportunity because of racism, research shows that people with ethnic-, and in particular, Black-sounding names are treated differently and ultimately less favorably, because of the race and ethnicity attributed to their names.  See, e.g., “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination.”

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We live in a world in which the politics of identity means that there are social forces always working to ignore, deny, and denigrate individuals and groups based solely on their identities – whether it is based on race/ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any number of other identifiers.

 

Marlo Stanfield said it so succinctly on The Wire: my name is my name. It is the world’s first entry into my identity and I demand recognition.

 

Diversity and Inclusion: Dealing with Gender Norms at Work

Posted on March 12, 2015

Law schools should stop reinforcing gender norms by telling women to wear dresses and skirts to job interviews and to work.

When I was a law student preparing for On Campus Interviewing (“OCI”), the law school administrator gave tips on how to dress appropriately for interviews. She told the men to wear suits and told the women to wear what has traditionally been deemed “feminine attire” – dresses and skirts. She made these advisory statements without regard to the individuals in the room, without regard to the effect that her reinforcement of gender stereotypes would have to at least some of the students who looked to her for guidance.

It’s not just law schools that stifle individuality and try to force diverse students into bland boxes. Work environments, particularly within the legal profession, do it too. Employee handbooks often have guidelines for what constitutes proper work attire. These guidelines usually divide employees into categories of men and women and then proceed to tell the men what is acceptable to wear, e.g., on Fridays in the Summer, it is appropriate to wear short sleeve polo shirts with khakis. For the women, they advise us not to wear skirts, dresses, and shorts that are too short, not to wear open-toe sandals, and to keep our shoulders covered.

You cannot promote diversity and inclusion if, at the same time, you reinforce gender norms and stereotypes. The way to effect change is to actually change

  • PRO TIP 1: Revise employee dress guidelines to remove the arbitrary divisors that distinguish between what men and women should wear. Employers can just as easily provide guidance on professional attire without ascribing masculine and feminine gender norms to entire categories of workers.
  • PRO TIP 2: Have confidence in the people hired to fulfill the organization’s mission. Employees are hired because they are believed to be competent. As an attorney, I can say that lawyers are usually hired because, at the least, they are intelligent, communicative, and know how to think critically. These people don’t need employers to tell them when and how to conform to gender stereotypes and norms that they may not subscribe to.

Your ability is not determined by whether you wear dresses. 

I got jobs and did well at interviews by being my self: skilled, engaging, inquisitive, creative. I kept jobs by working hard, anticipating needs, and engaging with my coworkers and employers. I received positive feedback from employers by performing my duties well. Not once did I wear a dress or skirt to work or to an interview. 

Related: 5 days of dapper in the workplace
Related: January Look Book Pt. II – I Define my Dapper
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