Stuff I’ve Learned

By Mintra Mattison


Big Black Hole

Someone recently told me that they think I walk on the sunny side of life.

I was surprised by this (positive) comment, and even though it was not that deep, it made me reflect on my life. The first thing that came to mind was remembering how miserable I was after going through separation and then finally divorce. I was hopeless, disappointed and I felt sorry and embarrassed for myself. I was lost and instead of dealing with it, I jumped into an unhealthy relationship.

It took me a very long time to realize things won’t go away or disappear if I would just ignore them. Finally, after almost 2 years of denial, I decided to face my fears and dealt with my situation.

There’s something scary about facing the rights and wrongs about yourself and your actions, something that (at least to me) felt like the ultimate showdown, a big black hole that swallows you and it’s not clear if and how you come out on the other side. However, one thing is for certain: you won’t be the same afterward. Truth is, good things come from these hard or uncomfortable situations and big black holes help you grow up. Looking back, I can’t remember a single decision or situation where uncomfortable or hard wasn’t good for me or didn’t help me grow.


No More Passion

The second thing that came to mind was a conversation I had with my new head coach who was also my supervisor at that time. I was working as a strength coach for a pro team and was the only female on staff. It was clear that he wasn’t too fond of my methods. Not only was he not interested in fitness training, but he would also cut down all training sessions wherever he could and would replace them with (at that point in the season) senseless spinning sessions. But instead of questioning his actions, I started to doubt myself and my programming and could not understand what the issue was. It was also a time in my coaching career where I lost passion for my trade, I felt degraded. See a pattern here? I knew I had to address this situation but I dreaded the conversation all season. Finally, I couldn’t ignore the fact that I needed to change something and spoke up.

It was this conversation, that by the way escalated quickly into an argument, that made me realize that it was not me or my programming, but him. He himself simply had no understanding of strength and conditioning training and methodologies and was intimidated that a female coach would know more about this type of training than him.

Surprisingly there was something very liberating about speaking up and addressing this issue. It helped me stay true to myself.


I am a Goalie

While staying true to myself and speaking up helped me grow, it did not prevent me from feeling insecure. Fast forward a couple of years: I am pregnant and happy in my personal life. However, due to the fact that I am pretty far along in the pregnancy, I am only coaching a few professional athletes and I’ve adjusted my training accordingly. I remember having lots of mixed feelings about this situation. Thoughts about missing out on coaching opportunities, my career in general as well as being worried about getting out of shape…you get the idea. Comparing myself to other coaches and females who obviously were not pregnant didn’t exactly help. I just couldn’t get out of this wheel of thoughts that made me feel like I am standing on the sidelines watching everybody else play the game. This went on for quite some time until someone told me: „You got it all wrong, you’re still in the game! You’re just playing a different position.“ This stuck with me and was literally a game-changer for me. Of course, how could I not see this? I am over here being the Goalie. And the Goalkeeper has (arguably) the most important role in the game. I can help my team win! This view significantly helped me turn my thoughts around and made me accept and appreciate my state of being.


How Did I Get Here?

A couple of years later I found myself in a corporate setting. I am surrounded by men who have accomplished great things in their line of work and it’s an understatement to say that I am intimidated by them. Not in a way where I can’t voice my opinion (I learned from my mistakes), but more like – how did I get here? My answer: I probably just got lucky.

In my defense, I am not the only one. If you google ‘intimidated by success’ you get 19 million results. That’s comforting.

But back to my ‘excuse’ pattern. I would always find some sort of explanation to depreciate whenever I did good or accomplished something. And while this might be an early childhood issue, I realized I needed to get out of this loop. I wanted to allow myself to be great and I wanted to be able to teach my daughter so she would know exactly how she got there when it’s her turn.

What helped me was comparing my situation to houses. Stay with me. In my world, bigger houses meant success and power, so of course, I had a tiny house. But while I was focusing on appearances I failed to take a look inside the houses. I found that at their core the houses were not that different, in fact, they had plenty in common. In different sizes, shapes, and forms, they all had tables, carpets, chairs, beds, and lots of other stuff. And although my house was small it is the place I call home.

This changed my perception of successful and or important people. They are not as intimidating to me as they used to be. I now know we have the same stuff in our houses. I know now that my work ethic and skill set is what got me here.



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