I was recently listening to the Hear Her Sports podcast featuring Shelma Jun. A little side note, this episode covers SO many great topics, but I was really inspired by her commitment to community. While Shelma is a climber, I felt like her message could so easily cross over into any community.
One thing that she really honed in on was how her relationship with women in general has changed over the years. Being within a male dominated sport, it’s easy to get swept up into the stereotypes and shaming. To be the one “cool girl” who can hang with the guys.
My, oh my. How I resinate with this so much more than I would like to admit. I was totally that girl. The girl who wanted to hang with the guys, prove herself to the guys, and prove that she was an exception to all the other girls. But you know what that did? It held me back, and more than anything, it reinforced the stereotypes placed upon women. Stereotypes such as being complainers, whiney, catty, etc.
I loved how Shelma points out how saying, “I’m not like that” is another way of saying that other women ARE like that. Or that there can only be ONE cool woman, instead of an ever growing tribe of us. Which just isnt’ the case! I mean, who has time for that sort of negativity and competitiveness?! It is such a far cry from my mission today – which is to inspire and encourage women to ride. Encourage women to face their fear, to show up, and just have fun.
We need to stand up for one another, to congratulate one another, learn from one another, and celebrate one another. Of course, as in any sport, there is a sense of competition. That is the idea of sports, after all. Whether you are competing against yourself or someone else, it is always there. But we need to nurture the sense of community that can come along with competition. After all, race’s are just one day. You need your community, your tribe, to get you there and celebrate you afterward.
Shelma is truly an inspiration to all women. Go check out a few of her MANY collaborations: