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Being rich, famous, and at the top of your field is awesome. But it doesn’t absolve anyone from self-doubt and anxiety.

Just ask Samantha Ponder. At 31, she’s been a successful sideline reporter and "College GameDay" host, and she's a mom to two beautiful kids. Most recently in 2017, she became the first female host of ESPN’s "Sunday NFL Countdown," shattering the concept that women can’t talk sports from the desk.  

Picture day at my new school. 👍🏼


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Despite a decade of hard-earned experience under her belt, she still felt insecure at times. “Every job I’ve had I’ve wondered, 'holy crap, I don’t know if I’m good enough,'” she says.

Like many of us, she struggled to define her self-worth at work. She often passed salary and contract negotiations off to an agent. Early in her career, Ponder found it difficult to manage criticism and negativity from social media trolls.

"I used to call my dad to ask what I was doing wrong," she recalls. "He usually responded with 'consider the source.'"

But even with a great support network, it's difficult not to let that type of criticism affect your self-image. It wasn't until she gave birth to her daughter that Ponder gained new perspective.

My favorite time of day. "Mama les snuggle an watch basitball." ❤🏀

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Ponder started thinking about what she would advise her daughter to do. Then she started to act on it herself.

Instead of handing difficult conversations off to her agent, she took her seat at the table.

"Talking about money makes me so uncomfortable, but this time around, I was much more involved," she says, referring to the contract negotiations for her new job at ESPN. She fought the doubting voice inside her saying, “What if they don’t want me? What if they say you should just be glad we gave you a job.” And replaced it with "What would I tell my daughter to do?"

It's this philosophy that's carried Ponder to the top of her field and in proving her worth — to herself and others. In reflecting on her career so far, Ponder highlights three key truths that continue to motivate her.

1. Don’t bluff.

Women frequently undervalue themselves in the workplace, which can lead to lower pay and ultimately less upward mobility into executive roles. Ponder says success in negotiating requires balance: be confident and honest in estimating your worth. Having specific examples and honest reasons to back it up not only strengthens your case but also allows you to be OK (truly OK) with walking away if your employer decides not to negotiate.

2. Maintain an identity separate from your job.

It’s easy to let the power dynamics of a job negotiation cloud your vision of yourself. "If you need the offer to feel happy, then they control you," she says.

If the job means everything to you, you no longer have negotiating power. No job is more important that your happiness. Whether it's family, friends, faith, a hobby, or a side hustle, it's important to find ways to maintain your happiness outside of work.

3. Know your boundaries.

"At the end of the day, everybody’s got to feed their family," Ponder says. Know your boundaries and what walking away means for you, she advises.

It’s all part of an effort to change her own learned behaviors now so that when her daughter’s generation confronts the same issues, it’s less uncomfortable. Whether it’s salary negotiations, setting an example for your child, or simply finding peace in a new position, Ponder reiterates the importance of cutting yourself some slack.

“I think can we all just admit that we’re insecure. All of us,” she said.

Knowing this, and owning it, allows you to take the pressure off and get down to real business.

For more from our I’ll Just Say it series, read on here.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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