“I want to be a doctor,” I told the counselor with an ounce of pride hiding behind my self-conscious hesitation.
“Oh sweetie, that is a pretty competitive field. Let’s find something else to fit a nice girl like you,” she replied, much to my shock. A simple flip of the hand, and my life’s path was changed.
I was just entering high school, sliding headfirst into puberty, and struggling with the recent death of my father. My self-confidence was at an all time low, and that one comment sent me over the edge. The more I thought about it, the more I talked myself into believing I wasn’t competitive, and I kept wondering what a nice girl like me was supposed to be. An internal dilemma ensued. I retreated from my life. I gave up softball, quit dance, and stopped believing in myself all together. I had no inspiring challenges and no supportive team to teach me to find my inner strength. Had I been encouraged to stay in sports and Keep Playing, I think my life would have been different.
It wasn’t until I began distance running in college, did I understand how much motivation and pride comes along with sports. Running grew my self confidence, and it has remained a staple in my life. When I first saw the Always #LikeAGirl campaign, I was moved by its fresh, encouraging influence for young girls, and the personal strength I found in running embodied the idea of Keep Playing.
The Always #LikeAGirl – Keep Playing video made me realize how much negative feedback girls get that destroys their self esteem, and lends to dropping out of sports. To me, Keep Playing means to never stop challenging yourself. It is why I keep running. Each morning I lace up my running shoes, every finish line I cross, and every personal record I shatter, makes me feel unstoppable. It gives me strength to chase after everything I want in my life. Keep playing means having the inner strength and confidence to believe in yourself.
This campaign is what generations of women have been waiting for, and the young girls of today will finally have the long awaited encouragement. Gone will be the days when girls shy away from the things they love because of low self-esteem and doubt. As women that have lived through the difficult adolescent years and survived the fears that have held us back, it is our time to inspire the girls of the next generations to keep playing.
The physical and psychological effects girls experience when they play sports aides in their overall development. Participating in team sports helps teach leadership, teamwork, time management as well as positively affecting brain function. It builds self-esteem and becomes a platform for young girls to create healthy, positive relationships. The sense of self worth gained and the commitment also gives girls a reason to say no to the many bad influences lurking in adolescence. These effects continue into adulthood and prove helpful in many stages of life.
The Aspen Institute Project Play quoted a 2014 study from EY Women Athletes Business Network in which 400 female corporate executives were surveyed and found that 94% had played a sport. 61% of those women thought it had lent to their overall professional success. Strong, confident female athletes become the determined, successful women of tomorrow.
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 impact lives of young girls by giving them tools to allow their self-esteem to soar and become well-rounded women.
I’m sharing #Always in my life as part of an Always sponsored series for Socialstars™. All opinions remain my own.