There will be many people in your life who will make a significant impact in a variety of ways. Personally, Simone Biles has been an influential Black American figure that inspired change in my life. She is the most decorated gymnast in history, while also being the first gymnast to win three consecutive all-around world titles since Kim Zmeskal in 1992. Simone is the first female gymnast to land the Yurchenko double pike, the sport’s hardest vault. She continues to break records and even creates new skills that no one has ever been able to do. Her skill is unmatched as she is an absolute powerhouse who dominates her sport. Even though she is a fierce competitor, she knows when to put her mental health first. Her actions inspired me to enact a change in my life.
As a dancer, I have always looked up to Simone Biles because she is extraordinarily talented. I have done studio dance since I was five years old, but I decided to also try out for my school’s high school dance team. I have had pre-existing anxiety and adhd issues, but I thought I would be able to handle this extra activity. I love dancing, but I had no time to also focus on academics, and I stretched myself too thin. The strict environment of the team while taking advanced classes was not a good combination. I was overworking myself in hopes of being able to maintain my level of academics, but it was just too much. My anxiety became worse, and panic attacks became more frequent. This stress transcended into all aspects of my life, and I knew something had to change. I was scared to quit because I loved dancing with my teammates, but I was not thriving in that domain. I eventually decided that leaving the team would be the most responsible thing to do. I needed to be in a better mental state, and it wouldn’t have been fair to the team for me to be an unreliable member who could ruin it for everyone else.
Simone showed me that it was okay to put yourself first, even if that means stepping away from doing something that you love. She withdrew from most events during the 2020 (delayed until 2021) Tokyo games due to an extensive amount of stress. Simone decided to “put [herself] into consideration for one of the first times throughout [her] career”. She also knew “[it] would be so selfish of [her] to put the team’s medal contention in jeopardy” since she was not in the right headspace. She showed me that “It’s not the end of the world, it’s just sports. If you walk away from this and you still are walking, that’s a win in your book” (Biles). Mental health is more important than any award, and we both prioritized ourselves. I have been able to grow, heal, and reflect on my decision, and it was a change for the better.