Business 04 April 2018
Failing is one constant in life that even the most successful of people face. In fact, I have spent the majority of my 20s failing. But there is a simple three step process to overcome it.
Around the end of 2010, I received an eviction notice. This was after I had stopped paying my electricity bill for six months straight. I was microwaving my burritos from 7-11 in the hallway of the apartment complex because my fridge didn’t work and there were no lights at home. At that time, I had called my mother. I told her that I was going to spend the rest of my life under a bridge and wished her a wonderful life. She called my grandmother and next thing you know, my grandmother had picked me up and told me that I needed to live with her. I didn’t really have any other choice, except for hunting for a new place to live under a bridge somewhere in Los Angeles, so I obliged.
While living with my grandmother, I felt hopeless. I just lost my home. Everything I tried working on failed. My former girlfriend didn’t want anything to do with me. Most my friends turned their backs on me. And I really didn’t have a plan on how to get ahead. So I spent my time playing video games and watching TV.
This didn’t last long though, because my grandmother was tired of me staying at home and doing nothing. She started yelling at me and told me that I needed to find a job. If you have ever had an Asian grandmother yell at you, it is by far one of the scariest things in the world. I felt obligated to find any job I could so she would stop yelling. Then there it was, my first interview for a position at a startup doing marketing from a listing on Craigslist.
I went to work there for over six months, and within the timeframe I had worked there, I earned a whopping $2,300. Not $2,300 a month, but $2,300. That’s less than $400 a month, well below minimum wage and the federal poverty line. But the good news is that I was able to keep my grandmother off my back.
I came to a realization that I couldn’t be a burden to my grandmother, let alone live this way anymore, so I made a decision to move back to Los Angeles. Luckily, my friend gave me the opportunity to live on his sofa for $100 a month, while my other friend lent me a few hundred dollars to survive for a bit. When I arrived, it took me a little over a month to find a job, thanks to my friend Deinis Matos who was staffing for an entry level position at American Honda. But after being there for two years, I hadn’t seen a single raise.
By this time, I was able to live on my own while taking public transportation for an hour and a half to work and an hour and a half, sometimes two hours to get home. But taxes had increased $80 a month and I could no longer afford to eat the $1.60 quesadilla lunch I would buy from my work cafeteria.
I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, let alone hungry after not being able to afford to eat lunch any longer. So I decided to put my all into three things: finding a new job, going back to school and writing.
Finding a new job went nowhere. Going back to school was a long game. But my writing took off because I kept at it every single day. It was read 2 million times within six months and 10 million times 1.5 years in. Now, I’m recognized as a leading expert in my field by various publications and media outlets.
When examining my entire life, I realized that there was a reason that I constantly failed. And that same reason I constantly failed was the same reason that others fail as well. It was because instead of letting our fears guide us, we either freeze up or run away from our fears. At first, I had difficulty figuring out what exactly it was that I was afraid of.
As I have grown older, more mature and in tune with who I am, I have come to find that fear isn’t something that we should run from. Instead, fear is something we should embrace and let guide us. When you are scared, it means that you are onto something great, something that would connect with others and propel you ahead.
After a long period of self-reflection, I discovered that my biggest fear in life was being hurt by others. Since I was scared of being hurt, I refused to be open, vulnerable, or willing to help others.
So how do you go out there and let your fears guide you? You follow this simple three-step process that I explain in my TEDx talk at UC Irvine:[thb_image image="19555" img_size="full"]
1. Recognize it.
In order to let your fears guide you, you first have to identify what it is you are scared of. Sometimes, this can be difficult because you have to go layers deep to discover what it is that you are truly afraid of. For myself, I am scared of a lot of things that involve talking with new people. Your fear can be derived from many things, whether it be speaking up in a meeting, reaching out to a prospective mentor, or the thought of how others would judge you if you decide to share something that you have experienced in your own life. You need to recognize exactly what it is that you are afraid of.
2. Face it.
Facing your fear is easier said than done. When you begin to face your fears, it may feel as if you are looking the devil straight in their eyes. Most people, what they end up doing is either freezing up or running away. If you’re anything like me, you will want to run away. But you can’t.
3. DSA it.
You can’t freeze up and you can’t run away. The reason for that is because you have to DSA it. To DSA it means you have to do something about it. For me, how I was able to DSA it was by writing my story of failure and broken dreams with the world. For you, it can be writing. It can be taking action and reaching out to a mentor. It could be asking your employer for a raise or even starting your own business. Whatever it is, you just have to DSA it.
If you want to stop failing and begin to become successful, I implore you to write down these three steps and to refer back to them each time you feel fear. Or even better, do something about what you fear right now. Because the only way to achieve success is to move past freezing up or running from your fears and to begin taking action.
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.