On Risk and Responsibility

group of men playing rugby

Actual footage of me waking up everyday and trying to live my life with seemingly never-ending chronic emotional, social and political unrest.

I mean there’s some kind of tension right now.

It’s not just me. You feel it right?

Tension at the grocery store standing on dots too far away from anyone to make small talk (something I relish in, I’ll admit).

Tension in my home as our conversations shift from this and that to conversations about what school will look like next year and how our summer will look much different this year than it has in the past.

Tension in my marriage as our conversations shift from coaching and sports to how we will take action and use our influence to impact our communities in a way that promotes fairness, equality and human rights for people of color.

Tension in my soul as I wrestle with my own experience with racism, my own silence about racism and my own guilt and shame about how little I’ve done on the topic – even though I am a second-generation Mexican-American who more often flew under the radar because of my light skin rather than spoke up for what was right.

What have I contributed because of ignorance, silence and shame surrounding my own experience with racism? The feelings I’ve stuffed over the years because people laughed at me or snickered because I was Mexican. How I’ve felt when people asked me “what are you?” (because my skin is light) in response to my Mexican maiden name versus what I look like.

See, this tension? This tension is layered. It is generational. It is currently fed by images in little square boxes and 280 character captions and people texting you articles to read, petitions to sign, ways to support, how to learn and so on and so forth as we try to peel the onion layers back and stack them neatly aside at the same time. I have almost 46 years of enneagram 5 layers. #iykyk


I was listening to a podcast (as an enneagram 5, my natural habitat is reading and podding – and apparently making up words too) and this tension is actually a thing. It’s not just something I feel, which is usually how things go with 5’s, this tension is real for all of us right now.

It goes like this: pandemic + quarantine + social unrest = this tension.

And, it’s happened before too.

More than once.

So, this tension? A socio-political emotional and economic math equation from our past.

Look, I am not trying to minimize this. I’m an enneagram 5. I actually understand it pretty well, five’s live their lives by their own set of formulas too, so if the world has a socio-political emotional and economic math equation, chances are you’ll find a five scratching their head, scribbling notes and then eventually finding a way to be useful, intentional and valuable in the midst.

5’s thrive on being useful and valuable. So when I’m not feeling it, you’ll find me journaling, writing or creating. It’s the 5’s defense mechanism to wasting away or riding off into the sunset without purpose. Or more accurately riding off to a quiet corner of the house to read and be with their thoughts.

So, this is where I am currently sitting. In a corner of my house, outside an equation, scratching my head, scribbling notes and looking to see where I fit. I won’t be here long because I am a person of action too. I don’t just fret and try to solve emotional and social equations, I do something about it.


I guess I’ll leave you with a list of five ways to make things better during this time of great tension. Atul Gawande, the author of “Better, A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance,” suggests five things to anyone who takes on risk and responsibility in society:

  1. Find something new to try, something to change.
  2. Count how often you succeed and how often you fail.
  3. Write about it.
  4. Ask people what they think.
  5. Keep the conversation going (even if you have to speak up from that dot six feet away from the next patron).

In the last chapter of this book, Gawande says this “Arriving at meaningful solutions is an inevitably slow and difficult process. Nonetheless, what I saw was: better is possible. It does not take genius. It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try.”

The solution to the tension-creating equation above?

These five things. Start at one, move towards five, then start again. And, don’t forget these things take time.


Priscilla Tallman is a freelance writer in Phoenix, AZ. She has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. She has written for FloVolleyball, Volleyball Magazine, The Art of Coaching Volleyball, Sweat RX, Gorgo Fitness Magazine, CrossFit Fury, The CrossFit Games and OPEX Fitness. She has also co-written a performance mindset journal called “30 Day Reset Journal: An Edge in Sports, A Habit for Life” and is currently in the editing process of a second journal for publication.

She is an 2x All-America volleyball player from the University of Georgia, SEC Freshman and Player of the year and was inducted into UGA’s prestigious Circle of Honor in 2006. She has played on the US National Team and enjoyed a bit of professional ball in Europe and on the beach. She has coached at the youth, high school, club and collegiate level. She is married with two children and currently coaches youth sports and performance/mindset journaling to youth and college athletes and coaches.



Categories: All The Rest

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