How many times have you heard: “Stay in your lane”? We hear it at Oiselle.
“You make running apparel. I don’t want to hear your opinion on X, Y, Z.”
“Keep to the clothes, don’t talk about politics.”
And we hear this said to our athletes as well. “Don’t tell me what you think. I just want to see you run.” And the put-down: “______ just likes to hear herself talk.”
But where does that come from?
When an athlete is starting out, often she wants to focus on her craft. Put her head down and train. Not put herself out there for criticism. And then when success comes, there may be an instinct to not rock the boat.
Why? We (the public) like our idols as empty vessels – so we can pour whatever feelings/ideas into them to make them into our ideal. But not only is that shallow, it’s false. Every person has innate personality. Fears. Struggles. Opinions. And when those are hidden from the audience, that perpetuates a falsehood.
In my tenure at Oiselle, I’ve been witness to injustices in the running world that athletes agreed were important and outrageous. Those athletes reached out to me but chose not to speak publicly with their eloquent and impassioned thoughts- due to fear, primarily. Fear of criticism, fear of being wrong, fear of sticking out. I understand. I truly empathize.
But you need to realize this: opportunities to speak out in meaningful ways are finite. There is never an opportune time to make waves. So those are now just missed moments, missed opportunities for growth and change.
Sally has a saying: “I’m a person first and a CEO second.” Everyone is a person first, and whatever brought them their audience second.
Oiselle came out against Donald Trump before the election. We took some heat. Lost some customers. But: we are a feminist brand in the Pacific Northwest. We stand for female equality. We support female athletes. Who would we be if we refused to take a stand against a man who bragged about sexual assault?
This is our life. We will stay in our lane. Our lane is bigger than women’s athletic apparel.
This is your life. You have yourself, and your experience. You gain power and identity however you are able. And you are free to wield that power to speak as you wish. It’s ok to be wrong. It’s ok to be human. You can stay in your lane. Your lane is you, and it’s as big as you want it to be. Maybe our lanes have crossed or will cross one day. In the meantime: head up, wings out, voices up!