I know that everyone is saying how great it is that you did this for yourself. But that is not what you did. You did this for all of us. For all of us who have been pressured to put aside our own well-being. For all of us who have done physical and emotional damage to ourselves because we didn’t know that it was ok to take a step back.
You did this for those who have ended up traumatized by pushing through situations that didn’t feel right.
You have shown our kids that it is ok to have boundaries. That it is ok to say no, even when the whole world is watching. Even when it will disappoint people.
You must have known that some people would be angry. You must have known that some people would be upset. But you also must have known that those things matter less than truly prioritizing your own well-being. That is a zen-master level of awareness, and I am in awe of your bravery.
You showed our kids that we don’t need to break ourselves, that we don’t have to push through any amount of pain. You showed our kids that you can be the greatest of all time, and still know when to take a pause. That makes you even greater.
You are a truly groundbreaking hero. Your impact is more important than you can ever know.
The expectation we place on girls and women is to always put ourselves second. Be the good girl. Follow the rules. Please others. Do what you’re told. And that is exactly what is breaking us. That is why there are so many of us who struggle with anxiety, depression, and just assume that those feelings are how it is supposed to be. We are learning to push back. We are learning to put ourselves first, and it is not easy.
Thank you for showing us that a hero can prioritize her own well-being. That we, as women, have the ability to say no. Yes, we have unbelievable amounts of strength, and yes we can sacrifice ourselves for the greater good. But we don’t always have to. Sometimes it is ok to question the expectations put on us. Sometimes it is ok to just be human. Sometimes it is ok to say no. Will that disappoint some people? Absolutely. Will we lose some supporters along the way? Maybe. But if someone stops supporting you because you have boundaries you have to wonder what they were supporting. Was it really you?
If you had gone on and competed and won the gold medal, I probably would have kind of noticed and thought that was pretty cool. But the fact that you truly knew yourself well enough to know you had to take a step back and were willing to do that despite the expectations that had been placed on your shoulders? That makes you a badass, the likes of which I have rarely seen.
So on behalf of all of those who you have empowered, those who might now avoid injury or emotional trauma because you had the audacity to take care of yourself, thank you.
Please excuse any typos as I construct articles late at night, and often with a tiny dog on my lap. These stories are mine and mine alone. I do not represent any organization here. Check out my books Attack of the Three-Headed Hydras, Anna, Age Eight, and 100% Community here: www.tenvitalservices.org.
This post was previously published on Medium.
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