There comes a point in life where you are looking for a hand up and not a hand out. In our minds we are not the top 1%. In our eyes we are bottom feeders on a treacherous climb to the top.
Truthfully we are in the top 1% but the evidence we are looking for is false. The privileges we have just as American citizens start us in the top 1%, and though we may not all be there, that journey is something that is POSSIBLE and that we know is ATTAINABLE.
Opportunity is one of the most whored words in American vernacular. Everyone has it, everyone uses it, and at many junctions in life we abuse it.
What led me to write this piece was seeing opportunity granted to someone else at my workplace. There are some people that hear IMG Academy they associate it with all sorts of stigma. Most know IMG Academy as an elite training facility for athletes, but others associate the academy as some kind of ‘factory’ boarding school for athletes. It’s true we are not a great fit for everyone, but many come to IMG Academy and find the focus they are seeking.
About five years ago, in collaboration with IMG Reliance, a young boy named Satnam came to the academy. He knew no English but traveled to Bradenton, Florida with a handful of other Indian teenagers that saw a future in athletics. Of course Satnam was special then, already 7 feet tall with a solid frame–our basketball coaches were more than excited. Leaving out a lot of detail and fast forwarding to this June when Satnam was selected 51st in the NBA draft, we were all overjoyed for his opportunity to play in the NBA. For those who spent time with Satnam, the prom king and extraordinary personality, we could not have been more delighted. For others the other side of the coin was more apparent. Others could only associate his involvement with IMG Academy as a business decision.
Well, to the others I say this, you missed witnessing a beautiful opportunity. Where Satnam comes from opportunities are few and far between. Anyone who was around Satnam on campus undoubtedly saw the personality and strong character he displayed. He was a joy for all the younger athletes to be around and an encourager for his teammates. There is no stigma in his experience at the academy. It was simply an opportunity that was granted, enjoyed and fulfilled.
Sports presents a plethora of opportunity for athletes. In my own life, the majority of my best experiences come from participating in athletics. I have friends and family across the world now because of my involvement in sports. I sought out and accomplished higher education due to my love of sport. For me it is an inseparable bond, but not the sole place I seek opportunity.
In life we are all seeking a hand up and not a hand out. I’ve written about this in the past, but giving someone $50 is not the same as showing them how to cut your grass for $50. Yes, many of us just want the money but in the end the money is not going to help us. Give us a hand up. Though my frustrations in that previous post were solely related to my job search, when we face hard times it is not always the best time to start searching for a hand up, we are too short-winded and easily frustrated.
Giving an opportunity today is not just getting a patron a job, but providing them with the skills they need to excel in that atmosphere. An opportunity for us in America is to widen our world view, to realize and experience that in fact we are the top 1% and act accordingly. The fact that I could simply have a career based solely off of basketball for the rest of my life scares me, because at the end of the day we are just playing games. Yes, I learned life lessons and made lifelong friendships and family through sport, but is competition the only way to build life skills? I beg to differ. We are doused in opportunities everyday.
There is so much education accessible to us that is FREE. Even those seeking to gain literacy can find programs in their city. There are free universities and degrees popping up everywhere on the internet and libraries still welcome the homeless. You can find chat rooms and think tanks that will set you up to pursue any career. There are MeetUp groups for EVERYTHING.
I don’t believe in online dating, but it is a $2 billion dollar industry. In today’s age our points of contact are happening without meeting people face to face. The old saying “its not about who you know, but who knows you,” has been simplified by online personal branding. People are getting interviews, jobs, and marriages by their online profiles. And if you are refusing to online date like me, the old fashioned way of candidly meeting people through social activities still works! One of my favorite things to do in life is to connect people with what they are looking for. I’m a natural networker and constantly keep other’s agendas along with my own when I’m having casual conversation. I have made great connections in the past that have catapulted me and others into fantastic opportunities now. It’s cyclical.
When you look at our privilege as Americans, when you look at the American dream, it is very much alive even with all of the stigma on our country. Let it be known that America is still the best country on planet earth!
The stigma of opportunity comes when we fail to acknowledge the good that comes from our everyday opportunities. It comes when we make condescending statements about the people who migrate to our country. The stigma of opportunity comes with all those gofundme, give-me-a-dollar websites that ask for your money instead of your engagement. The stigma of opportunity is that lady who wins the Powerball for nine million dollars and uses all of it to bail her boyfriend out of jail. The stigma of opportunity is the side of the coin that is most apparent in our society today, but we need to acknowledge and appreciate the everyday opportunities/blessings/privileges we continue to be granted with. That is the American dream.