Our partnership with Erin Mcleod remains strong! This second blog written by Erin features a very important event where she shared her life lessons with the goal to empower and inspire children within the community. Enjoy her personal story below and join us on this journey!
Last week I had the chance to visit 2 schools in North Vancouver: Upper Lynn and Ridgeway. I spoke to over 160 kids ages from 7 to 11 about some of my personal experiences in soccer and in life. When Destination Chrysler Dodge Ram Jeep decided to sponsor me, they thought about how they could impact their community and threw out a few ideas. One of their suggestions was going to schools in the area and trying to motivate, empower, and inspire the students, and although an intimidating task, it was one I was proud to say yes to.
I’ve shared my story a lot of times, and it normally goes along the lines of me getting in my own way and how I have had to work on my confidence day in and day out. What I have never shared before these visits is where my struggle with low self-esteem came from. I asked each group of students if they had ever been called a name or bullied, and every single one (160) put their hands up. For the first time, I realized I had a lot more in common with this group of students then I thought. I went on to ask who ever felt pressured to be someone they aren’t- and again, without hesitation, all hands went up, and it brought me right back to their age. I was bullied– a lot in fact, and I was ashamed because I thought it was all my fault, and as I expressed that to the students, many were nodding their heads like I was speaking their language.
In one of my favorite books, The Four Agreements, it talks about “domestication” – how as children we believe we can do anything and we don’t care about what looks good and what the norm is– we are true to ourselves…. And then the world creeps in. Our parents tell us what is acceptable, or we get bullied because we aren’t like everyone else, and over and over we are told or feel like just being ourself isn’t good enough. We then develop complexes that stick with us our entire lives. Well that’s what happened to me anyway. But the light at the end of the tunnel is whatever we teach our brains we can unlearn. I tried to explain to my young audience the importance of making mistakes and making sure the voice in our heads that has a comment for everything is kind and forgiving.
I then made all of the students meditate, an attempt to silence the voice in their head (it was a test to see if they could, but it was also an exercise to replicate an “in the zone” type of mindset– clear essentially of all thought) and every student went along. What I learned about that age group is the world is still their oyster; however, it is also the age where they can become harsh critics of one another but mostly of themselves. I’ve been told over and over that awareness is the first step to change– if I knew then what I know now…. A big thank you to Destination Chrysler Dodge Ram Jeep- because even though this trip was really about the kids and the community- it strengthened by sense of purpose, and I expect that this is really just the beginning of my journey. As I walked away leaving a bag of balls at each school donated by Destination Chrysler Dodge Ram Jeep, (of course after schooling a few kids, playing jump rope and cheering on some incredible goalkeeper saves) I watched the kids play for a bit and was reminded of why I love this game so much: no matter where you are from, what your background is, your race, religion, sexual orientation, on the field it’s just about having fun and about learning. It is a vehicle through which I’ve done most of my learning, and I hope no matter how old I am or what I’m doing I will always play “out of my mind” and in the moment.
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