Sunday, March 24, 2013

On to the Next One

I think everyone would agree new is better; fresh is far superior to stale. As students we sometimes fall into a grove, which turns to a rut if we aren’t careful. Taking the same path to each class everyday. Ordering the same items off the limited menu. Attend class, study after, attend class, study after then maybe sleep. It all becomes something of an academic Groundhog’s Day. This repetitious rhythm can occur with athletes as well, often becoming detrimental to keeping their game at its peak performance. The opposite of fresh is burnt out. Contrary to pop culture, cult classic films, burnouts rarely achieve anything of value.
            So first how do you know if you are well on your way to breaking down or simply experiencing a case of the Mondays? Dr. Alan Goldberg, sports psychology expert compiled a simple checklist for warning signs of burnout, which I will run through. First Physical fatigue- daily tasks are carried out in an apathetic manner; you go to sleep exhausted and wake up the same way. Constant illness followed by constant pain or achy muscles. Loss of fun- you just can’t wait for the day to be over. Loss of meaning- constantly asking yourself “why am I doing this?” Experiencing difficulty focusing. Finally displaying behavioral problems- unwarranted outbursts or a consistent negative attitude. To be sure, we all experience these symptoms but we should be aware if it’s an everyday thing or just a today thing.
            Goldberg suggests that there are three main causes to these symptoms and the sooner they are pin pointed and relieved the better. The first cause being, of course, lack of rest. No one should pull all-nighters if it means hating your life in class or even skipping class because you over slept- that defeats the whole purpose. Take a nap, take a walk, meditate or kick the crap out of a ball; it really doesn’t matter how it’s done, just release some steam. Another cause is too much pressure. You shouldn’t be in constant dread of going to school, you chose your major for a reason and hopefully that reason was because you enjoy the material. However I understand, money talks. A little anxiety is fine, it means you actually care about succeeding but if your heartburn is onset by the sight of your syllabus maybe it’s time to reevaluate. The third cause is tying your self-worth to your performance. That is, if you perform well, you’re a worthwhile person and if you fail, then you are worthless. You are not your transcript or the lost championship.
            You are more than the sum of your parts Islanders. Let your light shine not burnout. In the words of Jay-Z, “…I move forward the only direction can’t be scared to fail search and perfection…it’s all about progression, loiterers should be arrested…”

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Insane in the Membrane

Have you ever had a seemingly random idea pop into your head and think, “That’s a great idea.” Did you ever try to follow through with that “great” idea only to end up with a broken spirit, arm or heart? My “great” idea for the semester was taking 18 hours of classes advisors warn never to take together. What’s living without taking risks? Some of the greatest moments in sports’ history started from greatly insane ideas.
Lloyd's of London gave 19-year-old Gertrude Ederle only 7-1 odds that she would become the first woman to complete the 21-mile swim across the English Channel, something no woman and only five men had previously done. During the last few hours, Ederle had to overcome a rough tide running strongly against her, but she finished the swim in 14 hours, 31 minutes - nearly two hours faster than the previous best. When she returned to New York, the city threw its largest ticker-tape parade ever. Ederle’s idea was one small stroke for her and one giant win for women everywhere.
July 1999, Tony Hawk entered the X-Games with one great idea- to land a 900 during competition. After ten failed attempts and long after the allotted competition time had expired, the judges and other skaters allowed Hawk to keep trying. Relentlessly Hawk became the first person to land the two and a half revolution aerial spin. Eleven years later at the age of 43 Hawk can still land the 900 all thanks to one random idea.
            More recently Austrian, Felix Baumgartner became the first person to break the speed of sound without the use of a vehicle reaching speeds of Mach 1.25 (843.6 mph). On October 14, 2012 Baumgartner stepped out of his Red Bull capsule to freefall 127,852.4 feet above New Mexico. The descent took ten minutes but history was changed forever. Innovations that came from that leap of faith were a new parachute system, an innovative treatment for ebullism (formation of gas bubbles in bodily fluids) and new ventilator systems.
So maybe your last idea to jump from the roof of your house into the pool was an epic fail. And yeah taking that eight a.m. class was a theory better left untested but think about everything you learned. Life is about taking chances and seeing where you end up. Sometimes you will end up face down on the ground or up a creek but at least you will have a story to tell. Who knows, maybe your next big idea will take you to a new world, will lead you to be the first or maybe just maybe that idea will put you on the map.