Symbolic Attire

I can’t think of too many things more symbolic than wearing a team jersey or uniform and knowing you belong to something bigger than yourself. I’ve recently been accepted to a women’s racing team (road, gravel, and mountain biking) and when one of my teammates and friends gave me this year’s jersey, I simply felt like I belonged. Perhaps for the first time in years, I belonged to something bigger than “me.”

There is symbolism in things we wear and put on every day. Wedding rings and bands are symbolic to a deep relationship between two people and whether those people are physically together or not, a bond exists. Men’s ties and other jewelry for men and women often symbolize high status in work or society. Wedding attire- the dress, suit, and tux- is symbolic to a huge life event in many people’s lives. Even the logos that represent the brands and companies that we give our money to say something about us.

There are many examples of symbolism in material things in daily life.

But for me, something clicked just a few days ago and I had a deep recognition of who I am and what I stand for because of that team jersey that was handed to me last month. And with that recognition came a deep sense of responsibility too.

By putting on a team jersey or work uniform you represent that organization, group, team, brand or company. When you wear your uniform or jersey, you’re proud. You’re making a statement to the world that these moments aren’t just about you as an individual, but they are about your team or organization beyond you. (I have to chuckle because maybe this is by default… you need a job and you have to wear a certain uniform for work, even if you hate it. I remember this being the case at times in my life as well.)

When I race, I get to wear my team’s name. When I ride for training, more people will see our logo and colors. I’m one part of a greater whole that matters and is making a difference for women cyclists in my area. One example of how this changes me is that I’m going to go out of my way to follow road rules and practice good bike etiquette, especially when I’m in my team jersey.

So too, the importance of the jersey I get to wear for my team doesn’t end when I take off that shirt at the end of the day. I’m still “me” and I still belong to that group, with or without the name and logo on my back for all to see. I should be practicing those road rules and etiquette always, not just when in uniform.

This idea of belonging AND representing my team well really struck home a few days ago. Whether I’m wearing my jersey or not, I’m still a part of a team and group. And I want to bring honor to the group at all times, not just when I’m riding with the colors and logo of the team.

Whether we recognize it every day or not, we all represent something bigger than us. Our families, schools, churches, teams, places of work all make up pieces of our lives and groups that we belong to. And my realization the other day was this: I belong and don’t want to misrepresent the team that is important to me. I want to build the team up at ALL times.

A side note, I think this is why social media can bring so many problems to people’s lives and why supervisors and companies care about following their staff on social media. The online world matters as much as the behind closed doors, private, offline world.

Awareness of belonging to a team and how to represent that well comes with a growth in responsibility and character. It lasts beyond taking the uniform off at the end of the day. Day-to-day, we need to be aware of how individual actions and attitudes reflect outward on those groups and organizations that we belong to, and to not let wearing a jersey or uniform change how we should be behaving and acting as representatives of our groups and teams. Even our families’ names matter… and to bring honor to our family means acting with wisdom and making daily, healthy choices that help and not hurt our families.

In the end, reflecting on belonging and who I represent matters. I don’t want any organization to be brought down because of me; I only want those I work for and with to be lifted up. As individuals a part of teams, our actions really do matter for the greater good, or downfall if we aren’t careful.

What groups are you a part of? Have you ever thought of how you represent where you work, or the teams you are a part of even when you’re not in uniform? Does this change your perspective on how you move through the world on a day-to-day basis?

Consistency

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PC: Marion Michele

Consistency.

I’ve been meaning to write about this theme in my life since March, but I’ve been putting it off. Because to write about it is to claim it and to claim it is to live by it, and I haven’t been feeling strong enough to live consistently in most things.

I say I want to lose weight and a week later I’m binge eating on chips and margaritas. I say I want to read a book or two and except for the GRE haven’t picked up a book in months. I say I want to raise money for human trafficking victims and I’m too scared to keep asking the people who said they would donate.

Consistent in my work. Consistent in my friendships. Consistent in my training for triathlon this summer. Consistent with my relationship with God- I feel like I’ve been a roller coaster more than anything… Nothing consistent in my actions or attitude except this nagging thought that I have to get back on track to what is important and STAY TRUE to that course.

So I’m pushing and pulling. Trying to grasp at any semblance of order in my career, health, and attitude with changes in relationships, and especially with God.

Consistency is what I noticed brought me from running 11:00 min miles in snowy February, to 9:45 min miles in rainy April, to 8:50 min miles in humid June.

Consistency in prayer is what I know makes my emotional imbalance and fear sober and pure minded again.

Consistency in showing up at work, and doing the best that I can any given day is what I know got me a 3rd promotion in less than 2 years as a Sports Producer.

Consistency is what is getting me through relearning Math for the GRE that I haven’t thought about since 10th grade…

Consistency is key. It is key to success. It is key for getting through each day. It is key for proving I am capable, even when I “don’t feel like it.” And believe me, I don’t most days. But by remaining consistent to show up during the hard times, I know I’m succeeding, even if I don’t see the fruit right away.

I know it works. The reality is, though the process has been slow, I have seen the fruit of remaining consistent to the important things, letting go of that which distracts from my goals.

SO by FINALLY writing this blog post, I am claiming this word publicly to make it a habit and pattern in my actions and ultimately a part of my lifestyle in all areas of my life right now, not just when it is convenient.

Consistency to keep putting one foot in front of the other for this triathlon on days and nights I don’t want to work out, when I say the wrong thing in meetings, or when I want to go out with friends and instead know I should study.

In the end, I think that is what makes the fruit so beautiful. It is not that these goals are easy, or that I’ve done a good job at keeping them a priority- but that I can in action, word, and deed go back to remaining faithful and true to the important things.

The road is long, but I will reach the end by choosing to move forward. Consistently.

6 Things I Miss About Intern Life

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Part time jobs, moving around the country, traveling, not having a job for almost a year, and various internships since graduating college have marked my climb to finally land me in the stepping stone, paid position that I recently acquired in TV Production.

For someone who craves stability and knowing what’s next, the process of finding myself in the job search was not an easy one, but it has definitely enhanced my perspective of what it means to discover a field I enjoy, struggle after college to get there with a few twists and turns, and not give up in the process! Life is an adventure with unexpected experiences after all.

I achieved my current job a few months after interning at a local production company, where I work on 3 different sports shows for Penn State University. It is a BLESSING and stepping stone. On this journey of life, I am more than happy to be working in the creative field of quick turnover and slow waiting of media production- especially as I started at this particular company just a few months ago, as an intern, 2 years out of college.

I have big dreams in media production, but the reality is I’m a growing novice. Part of that growth comes from the change in status of Intern to Production Assistant- and there are some takeaways that the various internships I’ve had in and out of college that I miss, as well as wanting to laugh at!

1. Using the phrase: “I’m just an intern.”

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Sure, some days it sucks being the lowest on the totem pole in a work environment, but you can get away with A LOT by using the phrase “I’m just an intern.”

When something goes wrong with a computer system, or your team forgets important equipment off site, you get to look at your supervisor and say, “Gee, I don’t really know about that, I’m just an intern.” If other people come to the office who need directions, or to find someone, you can smile politely and quickly say, “I don’t know where that room is or who they are, I’m just an intern.” When things go wrong in the office, a quick diversion for damage control is, “Sorry! I’m just an intern.”

2. Less Responsibility

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As soon as you are on payroll, there is *that* much more responsibility to know where things are, show up on time, and complete work quickly. I’m not saying you can show up late everyday during an internship and get brownie points. It is important to take the internship seriously, maybe even more so than a job, if you want to be noticed as having integrity.

You never know what an internship might lead to! The company I am with now asked me to apply for a position with them a little over a month after being on time, available, and on top of it every day I showed up. But if anything were to happen at work that I didn’t understand or know how to handle, as an intern, I would look to the people above me for leadership.

You’re not expected to know it all and get it right the first time, as an intern. Less responsibility for happenings at the office means less weight on your own shoulders.

3. You Can’t Get Fired (at least it’s pretty hard to get fired, maybe if you do something realllly awful)

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As an intern you can’t get fired. A lot of places offer internships to students for school credit, or to people with limited experience as an opportunity to get their foot in the door, in a particular field, for free. And if you are working for free, it would take a lot of no-shows and crappy work for a supervisor to let you go. At many places, the interns do the leg work and keep the office running smoothly. Interns oftentimes save companies money. So, even if you are late, need to schedule change, or have a bad week and mess everything up earning the label “Intern of the Month” you still (probably) won’t get fired.

4. Freedom

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We live in a generation where commitment is lax and even looked down upon, but when you are just entering the work force, it can be comforting to know you are not locked into a particular position, or with a certain company. During an internship, you have freedom to decide if you like the industry or not. And if you like the industry, but can’t stand your supervisor, you get to walk away with a successful internship experience 3-6 months later. This will amp up your resume, while giving you the freedom to walk away and not be locked in at the end of your scheduled internship.

5. Solidarity With Other Interns

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There is solidarity in numbers, especially if you are treated as a lowly intern. I’ve been lucky to have supervisors who have taken me seriously as an intern and worker, but that doesn’t mean the work was always fun. Oftentimes intern work can seem tedious, boring, or like “busy work.” But supervisors give interns work so that they can focus on more important things.

Working at a computer that shuts down, in a dark corner, researching such and such for three days- while everyone else in the office is running around, talking, laughing, and drinking coffee- can really carry some negative weight. Except that on those days, I would look up and see other interns in the same position and realize I’m not alone. Then, I’d continue chugging away at whatever tedious project I didn’t understand was so important to my supervisor in the moment, and smile.

One of my favorite things about being an intern at one particular place I worked was finding community with other interns. We’d go out for happy hour at cheap bars after work, laughing at the day and dreaming about the future… It was awesome to connect with others who were striving to find a place, just like me, at a big office doing seemingly pointless or boring tasks. That community and solidarity was important.

6. A Unique Experience

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Hopefully, as with anything in life, you will have fun stories and get to do creative things as an intern. Big or small, anything you can stick to for months without getting paid shows character. Especially when you know an internship is one step of learning and growing, to get to your bigger goals and dreams. Internships offered me hope and expectation for the future.

At each internship, I saw myself moving in different directions. Whether it was emailing connections in other countries in Spanish, helping design shoes, programming shows for TV stations, sitting at a computer for hours logging 100’s of video clips, running through the tunnel with the Penn State football team at a home game, coming up with ideas and emailing them to my supervisor in the middle of the night, running out of money, laughing about it all over cheap wine with other interns, and best of all my supervisor approaching me to apply for a job with them because they wanted me; I wouldn’t trade my internship ups and downs for anything.

I recommend everyone on the job hunt to intern somewhere, especially if you’re not 100% where to go next. It’s humbling, but you just never know what doors might open!