I am confident that every person who reads this can answer two questions: What would you like to be?; What would you not like to be? In Psychology, we call these our possible selves. We all have a potential self, something we would like to be, and a feared self, something we are afraid of becoming. A few weeks ago, my feared self was an oatmeal raisin cookie.
For the record, I don’t discriminate against any cookie. But I’m not talking about the oatmeal raisin cookie you bite into while it’s still deliciously warm and gooey from the oven. I’m talking about the oatmeal raisin cookie you bite into when you think you’re about to eat a chocolate chip cookie.
I started coaching for Girls on the Run, a nonprofit organization, this September. I was so happy to get my roster and to meet all of the elementary school aged girls whose lives I would undoubtedly impact in the most positive way. I reached out to all of the parents a week before the season began and let them know how excited I was for the upcoming season.
One of the parents responded to me quickly after noticing my wingate.edu email address: “If you are a student at Wingate my daughter will love you! We were just there and she fell in love with the campus and the school.” I thought, “that’s great. Of course she loved Wingate! Who wouldn’t?” My potential self was being an idol for this young girl.
Her daughter had attended a volleyball game at Wingate one Friday night. I assume, for obvious reasons, that she witnessed one of many wins from our champions. I also assume since it was a Friday night at the beginning of a new semester, Cuddy Arena was probably full of students excited for the weekend. Basically, she was surrounded by freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. So every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00 until 3:15 I was expected to be in a fired-up Friday night mood while filling the shoes of an invincible Wingate volleyball player. Otherwise, her taste buds would have been deceived and she would be left with an unpleasant surprise, oatmeal raisin cookies.
On my first day of practice, the first thing this sweet 8-year-old said to me was, “Do you go to Wingate?” She adorably pronounced it “Wing-net,” so that settles the “Win-gate” vs “Win-get” debate. All I had to do was say yes and she was holding my hand and hugging me every chance she got. Every time I show up to practice in a Wingate t-shirt, she cheers and shows off her Bulldog spirit by shouting “GO WING-NET!” with every lap she completes. It wasn’t just the SAC champions and the weekend-celebrating students that she fell in love with. She actually just loved Wingate.
I realized then that I didn’t have to fake any mood, fill any shoes, or deceive any taste buds. Just being a student at Wingate University was enough for this young girl be excited to meet me and to share a common interest with me. Third-grade logic helped me face and rise above my feared self; whether it’s a chocolate chip cookie or an oatmeal raisin cookie, it’s still a cookie. Hopefully my potential employers will agree with this concept when I come out of the oven in May.