I recently read an article by Kevin Love in the Player’s Tribune titled “Everyone is Going Through Something”. I’ve always been a Kevin Love fan, but this article made me respect him even more as a player and person both on and off the court. More than anything, I loved how vulnerable he was in the piece, something I’m sure wasn’t easy given the sensitivity of the topic. He talked a lot about mental health and the stigma surrounding mental toughness specifically for men in the professional sports industry. He didn’t have an obligation to share his story, but he recognized the power of his platform and chose to use it to help others. He talked about the experience of having a panic attack and attending therapy for the first time in his life. Most importantly, he started a dialogue about mental health and how liberating it can be to talk about what you’re going through.
I felt deeply connected to this piece because as I’ve gotten older, especially this year in Ireland, I’ve become a lot more comfortable embracing my own emotions and sharing my experiences and feelings with others. It’s not easy. As he alludes to, it can be scary and uncomfortable to expose your private life and insecurities to the world. But beyond your own fear and doubt is the opportunity to have a profound impact on someone else’s life. As Love says, you never know what someone might be going through and how your words may impact them.
This past Wednesday was International Women’s Day, and in celebration I was able to reflect on some of the lessons my mom, the most influential woman in my life, has taught me. I’ve learned a lot from my mom over the course of my life… but I think one of the things I admire most about her is how comfortable she in in her own skin, and in the relationship she has with herself. She always told me growing up that the most important relationship I would ever have is the one with myself.
As athletes we’re always told to take care of ourselves physically, but there’s not nearly enough attention given to the mental and emotional side of health. Strength can be displayed in a variety of ways, it’s not just about how much weight you can lift or your ability to fight through an injury. Strength is being at peace with who you are, it’s learning to be vulnerable, and it’s learning how to treat yourself with the same respect and gratitude you so willingly give to others. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Everyone deserves to find their own kind of therapy, wether that’s in talking or writing or teaching or running or breathing. I think when we take the time to focus on ourselves and our own journey we put ourselves in a better position to help others, and that’s what it’s all about. There’s no shame in admitting you’re struggling, and there’s no shame in taking the time to focus on you. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have a mom who demonstrated this and reiterated it often. She showed me that strength and vulnerability are not opposing forces. That there is a time to push yourself and a time to be gentle with yourself.
If you haven’t read the article, I highly recommend it. It’s a reminder that we’re all human; no matter our gender or profession. And we have unique experiences and feelings that we deserve to work through and talk about. It’s a reminder to love yourself and value your worth and use your voice. A reminder we all deserve to hear once in a while.