A few months ago, I had a conversation with some people at Dove. They wanted to chat with me about what the key things were that helped me push through all the times I wanted to quit, what kept me in sport growing up and what was it that made me, in their words, “unstoppable.” They asked me about times of doubt, times that I felt insecure or uncertain.
It was a very interesting conversation- talking about the struggles and challenges that have to be overcome can be really difficult, you have to be willing to let yourself be a little vulnerable to admit that you have had time of weakness. It is such a strong practice in our culture to hide those weaknesses and now I wonder, why? Everyone has them, if we acknowledge them, share them and learn from them. Though it was a challenging conversation to have with, well, strangers… I realized I truly wanted to share my experiences because maybe, just maybe it would help someone push through their self-doubts and keep them in the activity that they are truly passionate about.
Growing up, I was not the most confident kid. I was pretty quiet and, like most kids, I wanted to fit in. I went through a number of times where I got frustrated because I couldn’t spend as much time hanging out with my friends, I spent a lot of time in the gym. I remember sitting in the car with my mom driving me to training, like she did more times that I can possibly count or thank her for, and I felt ready to quit.
My mom has always been pretty good at asking questions and probing to get to the real root of the issue. She is also pretty wise. In the car, when I told her that I felt done, she turned to me (and whether it was her being supportive, knowing me better than I knew myself or her version of reverse psychology I will never know) she said, “Ok. If you don’t want to do it anymore, you don’t have to.” In that moment, when I had the option… I realized it was the last thing I wanted.
My family and my friends have played a huge role in helping me get to where I am. Like any path, the path of an elite athlete is not an easy one. With any big goal comes some pretty big struggles along the way and it is the support system around you, the friends, the family, the mentors that get you through. For me, anything I have come up against, my mom has been a huge part in getting me through. In my sport, our leotards don’t leave much to the imagination and I was never the smallest one out there. When I told my mom my concerns about my body, she helped me by asking, “What is your goal- to be the smallest one out there or to be the best trampolinist you can be?” She helped me realize the value of a healthy and functional body. That my legs were powerful so that I could jump high.
Many of the lessons I learned through sport and the value that I have gained through sport I am only just realizing now. Sport gave me something to be passionate about. The trampoline gym helped me find my voice and helped me develop confidence. It helped me learn the value of struggle and the opportunities you can have when you face a challenge. It helped give me a positive perspective. These lessons that I have learned (which there are more than I can fit into one blog) are more valuable than any gold medal you can win and there is no way that I would have come realize the true value of sport and finding your passion without the support of the people around me.
The reason I am so excited to be working with Dove on their Girls Unstoppable campaign is because they realize the value of girls being a part of something they love and the impact that mentors and supporters can have on girls. Their mission to start those conversations and keep girls in the activities they love really resonates with me.
So, to anyone reading this, I encourage you to look around you at the people in your life, especially the young girls out there, encourage them, support them and have those conversations. They can be tough to start, which is why Dove has created a tool to help get the doors open. Once you do, it is worth it because once you do, you too can help make Girls Unstoppable!
Click here to access the incredible resources that Dove has created to help!