I have quit a lot of things that I regret. There was the soccer team I tearfully abandoned after I hit another girl in the face with the ball. Then, piano lessons I never returned to when my crusty, old teacher scolded me for not practicing. Let’s not forget the week I joined the running team in middle school where I tripped and took out two other runners as I crashed headfirst into the pavement. If I couldn’t quietly blend into the background and survive the season with mediocre skills, I didn’t want to play. I hated to be challenged or pushed beyond my comfort zone and that lack of confidence translated to everyday life.
In school, I hated to raise my hand fearing I would embarrass myself with a wrong answer. Through college, I wanted badly to join the rock climbing club and learn to climb, but I made constant excuses because I didn’t want to look like a fool. During my first job, I turned down a promotion terrified that I wouldn’t be able to do the job. I have let a lot of opportunities fade away because I didn’t believe in myself. Had I been encouraged to stay in sports, I know it would have helped my confidence levels, and many girls agree. In fact, two thirds of girls feel that sports gives them increased confidence.
Now, I force myself to go after the things that scare me in order to rebuild the self-esteem I should have been working on my whole life. With these experiences, I hope to encourage other young girls to stay in sports and the extracurricular activities that nurture confidence through hard work. No girl should hold themselves back from life because of self-conscious doubt.
Inspired by the Always #LikeAGirl campaign, I talked to my nieces about sports. They range in age from 14 to 8, and they all play sports. I can see their confidence blooming like the delicate petals of a flower and just as complicated as photosynthesis. However, when I attend their soccer games and swim meets, I see them in their element. There is a spark of pride and determination glowing in their faces. I asked them what would make them quit, and their answers give away not only their ages but how self confidence is affected through adolescence.
Kaily age 8 – “I would never quit.” The determined optimism hasn’t been touched by doubt, and her passion is an unending joy so much so that she cannot fathom a reason to ever quit.
Mackenzie age 9 – “If you aren’t enjoying it or you feel you are pushing your body past its limit.” Just one year older, she understands there are circumstances that can negatively affect the things you love doing and sometimes people quit.
Isabelle age 14 – “I think about quitting because it takes up so much time…In the summer, I always miss out on pool parties.” On the brink of high school, she is eager to fit in with her peers, even if that means giving up something she has enjoyed doing for years.
Hearing their different responses, it is easy to understand the slow evolution of self-doubt that leads to quitting. It may start out small, but the pressures of adolescence seem to tear at the seams of confidence. Regardless of the reasons, there is a strong trend to quit sports the older girls become. At the age of 17, 51% of girls will dropout of sports. While 7 out of 10 girls ages 16-24 feel they don’t belong in sports, especially during puberty.
It is crucial for girls to receive the support and encouragement to stay in the activities they enjoy in order to help their self-esteem grow. When they quit, it is so much more than just leaving a sport. It is giving up a piece of them that makes them feel proud and provides a positive outlet to test their strengths. This is why Always is eager to reach out to girls across the globe. Watch the inspiring Director’s interview and why she was excited to be a part of the Always #LikeAGirl campaign.
With all of the benefits of playing sports, 67% of girls still feel that society does not encourage them to play. It is time we step up and inspire girls to keep playing. Talk to the young girls in your life about the positive effects of playing sports, volunteer to coach, or donate to local teams. Whatever you have to do to keep girls on the field. They are learning the skills and the perseverance necessary to make their way in life. Quitting might mean stunting their potential.
The Always #LikeAGirl campaign is brought to you by the Always company which has provided dependable products for women over the last 30 years. Now, it is aiming to change the lives of young girls through its global puberty education which reaches over 20 millions girls around the world.
I’m sharing #Always in my life as part of an Always sponsored series for Socialstars™. All opinions remain my own.