March 3, 2023 | FEATURES | By Alexandra Akinchina
This Monday, Melanie Auguste ’09, Vice President of Global Brand Narrative, Purpose, and Athlete Marketing at Nike, spoke to the Colorado College community about her journey from CC and her job at Nike.
She titled her presentation “Finding Your ‘Mountain’ and Learning to Climb It: My Journey from CC to Nike and the Lessons I’m Learning”. As soon as I read that title, I knew I was meant to be in that audience.
The idea of my life being a series of mountains to climb and overcome first came to me when I was graduating middle school. I remember sitting in the audience as someone gave a speech about the “mountain” that was coming – high school. The talk stuck with me throughout my high school career as I imagined its many steep climbs and great falls.
All this to say – the title stuck out to me, and I knew I needed to hear whatever was going to be said.
Auguste started her speech by pointing out that her biography (which had just been read) was just a highlight of her accomplishments. It didn’t show that her successes were built from great failures. It was refreshing to hear someone speak so openly about their rejections, failures, and obstacles.
In a world filled with ‘I just accepted…’ and ‘I’m so excited to announce…,’ it can be difficult to gain perspective. In a world wrought by social media, comparison reigns. I’ve found myself stuck on an endless doom scroll too many times, each time finding myself inadvertently comparing my accomplishments to others and feeling this sense of ‘not enough-ness.’
When Auguste pivoted to talk about her internships, it was all too familiar. I didn’t expect to feel such pressure around the ‘perfect’ internship in my second year of college, yet the pressure came swiftly and stayed. What if I’m not applying for the right thing? What if I’m making a big mistake? These questions swirl around in my head constantly.
The thing is, it feels like a never-ending chase, and I’m already tired of running. I know other people feel the same way.
One of the things that kept Auguste motivated to keep going was grounding herself in her ‘why.’ She recommends asking yourself why you are doing what you are doing.
In my experience, finding a ‘why’ isn’t the most crystal-clear thing, but finding something to ground you can help move you forward. Listening to my favorite music or watching my favorite movies grounds me. Somehow, everything seems a little brighter and better. There’s something so sweet that’s found in familiarity.
As I reflect on her talk, I think about what I want my life to look like. More specifically, I wonder whether I will look at my life in terms of mountains at all. I don’t want my life to be a rigid box. I need something boundless and everlasting; never-ending possibilities and opportunities; something beyond.
It reminds me of this quote, which I will leave you with. It’s from a poem by Tennyson called Ulysses. “Come, my friends, ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world…for my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars…”
I think that might be for me.