When the final buzzer rang out in the small, dank middle school gym, the score was 44 to nothing. Them 44. Us nothing.
As the Fayette County Lady Tigers filed off the floor, there was a moment of shock, like I can’t believe we scored absolutely zero points…not one time did the basketball go through the hoop. People accidentally make shots when they are picking up their children’s yard toys. Toss it towards the goal and swoosh…an accidental shot made.
But that afternoon, my junior high team, the Lamar County Lady Dogs, hadn’t managed to even accidentally make a basket. Zero.
That hurt…for several reasons.
First, we were middle schoolers. Brushing your hair with your sister’s brush is devastating at that age. A loss of 44 points and us scoring NOTHING hurt something fierce.
Second, we were stripped of all dignity. The 44 to nothing loss was our doing. I admit that.
What we WORE to be beaten like a drum that afternoon (and rest of the season) was not our fault. We had been “gifted” the varsity uniforms from around 1985. The problem…we were wearing them in 1993.
By 1993, the longer, baggy basketball uniforms were popular. That was not what we wore, not by a long shot. (Pun absolutely intended!)
No. There we were…beaten into submission by a much better team…trying to keep our butt cracks and butt cheeks from showing as we bent to gather our water bottles and scurry to the locker room.
This infamous game was before the days of throwback uniforms and vintage wear. No one was using those terms. It was evident to everyone that these unis came from one of the school’s forgotten closets.
A third hurt from this loss, we had to face the middle school BOYS the next day at school. You score literally no points, people will talk.
This group is a tough one to face. I mean, terrorist-interrogation team worthy!
It was in the pep talk my parents and sis gave me after the game that my loving mom spoke her now-famous compliment, “But, you looked so good in your uniform.”
You know the saying, “So ugly only a mother could love.” There it was being played out in our kitchen that night.
Needless to say, my mom’s heartfelt compliment did nothing to deter the battalion of 7th grade boys the next day. I didn’t actually say it aloud (I have more sense than that!), but even the mental mantra didn’t deflect their barbs. They landed, stuck, and tore flesh.
What’s the Entrepreneurial Connection Here?
As you think back on your life (particularly your middle school years!), I am sure you can remember a time when you were beaten 44 to nothing in the proverbial game of life.
Yet, here you are still kicking…maybe a little bruised (or a lot bruised). But, still here…reading about entrepreneurship.
And oh yeah, motherhood is similar to middle school. Constantly feeling as if others are judging you; thinking others are laughing at your attempts; your hormones and, thus, body are out of control; an ability to cry at a moment’s notice. Yes, motherhood is basically middle school all over again.
So my theory…if you survived middle school and are a mother (or mother figure), then you are ready for entrepreneurship!
The Butt-om Line
Recently I stumbled upon on article about Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx. Sara is the lady we thank when our butts and guts look great in white pants or a form-fitting dress.
As a struggling mompreneur, it is easy to look jealously at Sara Blakely. But know that she failed the LSAT twice so her dreams of being a lawyer vanished. She had hoped to be Goofy at Disney. Due to being too short, she was assigned to be a chipmunk.
At the time Spanx was born, she was selling fax machines door-to-door. You know business owners loved that, cold-calling and all. Needless to say, Sara got rejected A LOT.
It was in those rejections and from her dad’s philosophy of failing is okay, actually good, that Sara learned to dust herself off and keep going. In fact, once she made her first set of Spanx by cutting out the feet of control-top pantyhose, she had to beg a manufacturer to make them. She tried many and was denied numerous times.
The butt-om line here (forgive the play on words…couldn’t resist), Sara was beaten 44 to nothing in her game of life…many times. Instead of letting those rejections define her as a failure, she used them to make her stronger. You know, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
I don’t know Sara personally. I don’t know if she is humble, kind, and giving, all the things we hope for our living-the-American-dream icons to be. (She seems to be, though, in the interviews I have watched and articles I have read.)
See, this post is not really about Sara or even about my 44 to nothing lose. It is about you and me failing and being embarrassed and perhaps losing our dignity for a time just to get up and go again.
It is about us recognizing that any time we put ourselves out there, whether in sports, in the business world, or in motherhood, we will get rejected and embarrassed. We will fail. But, we don’t have to quit playing. That is our decision. It is no more and no less.
Several of us from that middle school basketball team kept playing. And by our senior year, with the help of some talented sophomores, our varsity team was good. We weren’t state champs, but we were solid. Many of my best memories came from the days of playing basketball in high school and juco. So glad I didn’t let that 44 to nothing lose define me as an athlete! What I would have missed!
Oh yeah, and Sara Blakely was and is successful too. :)
So, ladies, throw your shoulders back, put your Spanx on, lengthen those shorts to a non-embarrassing length and get to it.
You have survived middle school and face motherhood everyday. You’ve got the mental toughness and the shapely butt to face and conquer this world of entrepreneurship.
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