It was July of 2011, when a friend posted in our local moms' group that she was planning to host a psychic party at her home with a renown psychic medium who boasts A-lister clientele. It seemed like perfect timing as that same exact week, I had been overcome with the notion that my 11-month-old son had been carrying on conversations from his crib with my deceased maternal grandfather.
Even though I was excited, I was still filled with skepticism while waiting my turn. My name was finally called to go into the room where the psychic was meeting with each mom privately for the readings. I hadn’t even walked two steps into the room when he turned to me and said, “Normally I ask a couple questions before we get started but I can’t even ask anything because your maternal grandfather is here with us and needing to make his presence known. He wants you to know that he is your guardian angel and will always be for the rest of your life.”
From that moment, I was not only a total emotional mess but also all ears. After initially setting the tone by calling out my grandfather, the psychic continued on about my life and hit the nail on the head about so many things. So, when he made his predictions about my career, he definitely had himself a captive audience.
“I am looking at your career and I see great success in your future," he said. "Success is inevitable. You’re still learning at this point in your career but you’re acquiring all the skills … you will start a new endeavor in the future and it’s going to be great. I see March as a month where the floodgates open for you.”
I was so excited to hear this because I had left an executive level agency position to start my own consulting business in order to be home with my son. At that time in my life, I needed all the reassurance I could get that I hadn’t committed financial and/or career suicide. After the reading, I felt positive and invigorated about all aspects of my life.
Imagine my surprise the next day when I got a call from my biggest client to tell me they had just been acquired and were moving all marketing in-house. I was given my 30 days’ notice. I was totally bewildered; the psychic had been so right about everything - how could he have been so off about my career? In spite of this devastating call, the psychic’s words still rang in my head “Success is inevitable.” The days following, I networked with everyone I knew and landed a bigger and better client gig before my 30 days was even up.
Since that time, there have continued to be setbacks and sleepless nights in my career but I always go back to that psychic reading when I’m feeling downhearted. “Success is inevitable.” Whether the psychic is authentic or not, he has managed to plant a seed of positive thinking that has carried me throughout these past six years. Fast-forward to March of 2015, when I launched my current business: Gugu Guru. (Per the psychic’s prediction, the flood gates would open in March and they sure did!) Like everything else in my entrepreneurial journey, I have had some really high highs and really low lows with building this new business but I continue to go back to my mantra and it always seems to come through for me. “Success is inevitable.”
So, my fellow entrepreneurs, do I suggest that you go to a psychic medium? Not necessarily.
Truth is, who knows how things would have played out if that psychic had not opened the reading so powerfully by naming my grandfather. However, I do recommend that you find your success mantra and fully trust in the power of positive thinking. I have no real way of measuring the impact it has had on my career, but I know it’s been profound. If you truly believe that failure is not even a remote possibility in any aspect of your life, consider how it could possibly change the way you do things and the effect that it could have on your life every single day.
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.