“Never, ever, ever, give up!” You may have to adapt your course like I have, but trust me don’t quit! I have persevered through many obstacles in my life; the most recent occurred within the last year. Instead of giving up, I changed my approach. Doing so has made all the difference to achieving my goals.
Through my research and athletic experience at graduate school, I saw a need to reduce bullying in sport. The research I had conducted focused on creating effective school-based bullying prevention programs. However, towards the end of my studies, it became very apparent that prevention cannot only occur in formal classroom settings (as these programs were using). I believe this needed to reach beyond the classroom. After I graduated, I wanted to improve the climates of educational and athletic environments by focusing on healthy relationships.
This passion to implement change in sport team members’ behavior was a passion resulting from my own personal experiences – sport teams and academic work teams I have participated on. Moreover, I have a lot of experience in implementing change in bullying behaviour. I spent four years working on developing and implementing bullying prevention with youth in the school setting. Bullying is not just a school issue; it is a social issue, and it should be expanded to the youth sport setting as well.
To act on this vision, I sent out an email to schools and sport organizations across Canada inquiring about improving the sport environment. However, these comments are examples from the few that did respond: “We’ve got a policy in place,” “We don’t see the value,” We’ve got the situation under control.”
My ideas for improvement in sport were not going to be put into action. Doors were closed, and I wasn’t getting any feedback about my suggestions. I took the lack of response, as a cue to stop. Here I was, a new Master’s graduate with so much experience, passion, and enthusiasm to create positive climates and to improve relationships in social settings. They tried to stop me in my tracks.
However, something inside me wouldn’t listen to the critics and that I had to find another way to empower individuals. After many “random” thoughts, it was then that I came up with the mantra: “You cannot control what will happen to you or how you will be treated by others. You CAN control, however, how you react to the situation. Learning how to do that in a POSITIVE manner is key!”
I wanted to apply the outlook that I use when competing in sport to life; persevere despite what happens. For example, in the Ontario University Rowing Championships, the seat I was on in our eight boat had a malfunction. In rowing, the seat slide is very important to the stroke. The seat fell off the track four times during the race and it hindered our boats performance. Luckily after the fourth one, it stayed on and I was able to get back in the race. I was quick to fix it and every time a wheel fell off and I was stopped – I hopped off my seat and put it back on. If I was quick to find a solution in an intense situation then why wasn’t I doing so in this case?
Just because I was getting no response to my emails didn’t mean that my vision was silly or that I should give up. On the contrary, it just meant I had to find another way. As I am an educator, who focuses on learning styles; I just had to use another strategy. I had to adapt my response to the situation.
I had to alter my course to go around the obstacle and get back in the race. For years, I kept my mouth shut as I was too shy to speak up. This time I’m speaking out and not being silent. Instead of talking to academics or coaches, I would talk to athletes. Yes, I couldn’t let sports organizations reduce bullying; I decided to talk to the athletes directly on a platform that I felt comfortable enough on – my blog.
By digging deep and sharing my journey online; I encourage others to do the same. Instead of telling others that this issue is important, I would like to show you and let you hear people’s stories and experiences. Through the process of finding my voice, sharing my journey as well as interviews from others, and focusing on the positive – my life has changed. Now, my blog, has over 65, 000 views from around the world and comments are consistently posted indicating that others share my experiences. The blog has also won a couple blog awards. This all resulted because I believe in myself, owned my power, and persevered.
Life will be hard work, you will doubt, and it may take a while to achieve your dream, but go after your dreams with your whole heart. Believe in yourself and speak up! Don’t ever get distracted by critics.
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