And now, a break from our regularly scheduled blogs to go a bit specific and also a day early.
Often when I am reading the news (yes, I still read it) I am silently writing responses to various topics or events and how they made me feel or about what common sense subjects are missing on any given day. While I don’t listen to many podcasts, there are times when my thoughts do the same. The few podcasts in my library are Kelly Corrigan, Friends and Neighbors (featuring a dear friend, Benjamin Wagner), Whine & Wine (it’s brand new and it’s also myself and another dear friend, Kathy Crowley), and, finally, the The No. 1 Gymnastics Podcast in the Galaxy, GymCastic.
GymCastic is the podcast that first drove me to download the podcast app. This was way back during lockdown times when I needed something (ANYTHING) to enjoy while organizing my spice rack. GymCastic is the only podcast I am currently current on (and yes, I am bragging as I am often weeks behind). This summer, thanks to some long drives, I am so current that I have been saddened to see the “No Unplayed Episodes” note pop up regularly.
While I listen, I always offer my own input as if I were there in the recording room and being encouraged to offer my own commentary. I have occasionally zipped a tweet, a DM, or even a whole note out to hosts Jessica O’Beirne and Spencer Barnes with hopes of a shout out to my thoughts.
But a whole blog about a GymCastic episode? Not until today.
This week the show interviewed Ashley Miles Greig, a former elite rockstar and the new head coach of Iowa State’s Women’s Gymnastics team.
Because I suck at all things history, including gymnastics, I had essentially no memory of Ashley competing and was prepared to learn a whole lot of interesting things (and I did!). What I was not prepared for were a few quotes that, at first, made me cringe and, at second, blew my frigging mind.
While GymCastic may be a podcast geared to a relatively narrow audience, this is an episode that every woman everywhere should memorize.
I will say that, as I dove in, my initial cringy thought was “Wow, this Ashley Miles Greig loves herself.” It was not a complimentary thought. It became a complimetary thought just minutes later when Ashley followed with,
“I usually really do succeed at things that I put my mind to.”
Can I get a set of praise hands?
I actually hit the back button to start the entire episode again. The standard reaction to any woman exuding such confidence is, well, eyerolls. Ashley Miles Greig is a woman who knows exactly who she is and isn’t afraid to broadcast it. This is not common. Why?
Because women who proclaim their excellence are often met with words that range from She’s so full of herself to It’s always all about her to She’s so arrogant.
And, yes, I do speak from experience.
That experience (for me) might have been worse if I hadn’t spent the majority of my life downplaying my own determination to create, chase, and slay a goal. Why the downplay? Well, I certainly wouldn’t want anyone listening to be uncomfortable, would I? The kind of uncomfortable that makes them say things like She’s so full of herself or It’s always all about her or She’s so arrogant.
When I was a competitive gymnast, only one of my classmates knew that I had a fairly successful side hustle and the only reason he knew was because his little sister was on my gymnastics team. It wasn’t until I threw caution to the wind, by throwing a backflip off the graduation podium (diploma in hand) that the rest of my classmates found out. Graduation marked my final chance to explain every early dismissal, absent Friday, or the lingering smell of chalk dust on torn-up hands kept hidden in pockets.
When I was in grade school, the thing I looked forward to most was the annual President’s Physical Fitness Test. I kept track of my scores for comparison each year yet I always insisted on the last spot in line for all but the standing long jump (I was short … I maxed out at maybe fourteen inches). I passed on the easier bent arm hang option preferring the pull-up performed by the boys but, again, took my turn after most had left for the locker rooms.
I wanted the top prize – I just didn’t want anyone to see me rocket past their own counts.
At 52, I am just beginning to truly understand that the pick goal, slay goal mentality is not the norm.
The eye-opener, for me, was writing a book. The checkpoints went something like this: I’ve always wanted to write a book. I’m going to write a book. I wrote a book (and it’s also quite good!).
Throughout that three-year process, I often crossed paths with people wishing or wanting to do the same. For quite some time, I left those conversations feeling confused. What were they waiting for? My husband repeatedly told me that this pick goal, slay goal gear is not common. He also told me that it’s so uncommon that some have an adverse reaction to those who do have it.
And he was (and is) kind enough to tell me these things in conjunction with pushing me to loudly own my successes rather than simply whispering them.
You see, those accusations of She’s so full of herself and It’s always all about her and She’s so arrogant are still common. They are also something my husband, a star in his own field, doesn’t have to deal with. For women? It’s as predictable as pollen in the spring. When he excels, he is congratulated. Me? Condemned.
Ashley Miles Greig, you are a goddess.
“I don’t care what people that don’t know me have to say if it’s not positive.” ~ AMG
“I don’t have time to sit around and wonder what people that don’t love me think about me. Who does that?” ~ also AMG
It’s me. Hi. I’m the problem it’s me.
I do sit around and wonder about those people all the dang time, especially when they are the same who claim to accept me for whom I am or, well, love me.
Ashley Miles Greig, I may not remember your quirky vault run, but I will never forget your words.
You are right.
Own your talents.
Own your hard work.
Own your achievements.
Own a door through which to show your critics out.
You don’t have time for them.
You are too busy creating, chasing, and slaying your goals.
PS: Jessica … clearly at this point I owe you endless co-pays and a signed copy of my work …