My friends on twitter, @girlguidesofcanada, asked for a guest post on what it’s like to be the smart girl, the sporty girl, the girly girl, etc. For me, I was the sporty girl from the time I was in grade 6, and I would love to share what it was like for me.
Becoming a “tom boy” in grade 6 was an easy transition for me because I was a little girl who always liked playing catch with her dad and rough-housing with her brother. I gave my mom a hard time whenever we went clothes shopping and it was usually a struggle to get me to wear something pretty to church on Sundays. I found my niche at my new middle school by joining the softball, volleyball, and basketball teams. I was never picked last in phys ed for teams and I often stayed in my gym clothes for the rest of the school day. It made me comfortable to be labelled as a jock because I knew I would mostly only be judged by my peers on athletic performance–a category that I was confident in. I was ok with being labelled as a tom boy but I was afraid of just being a girl because I knew I was not in the “popular” crowd and that the majority of the male population at my school did not want to date me–being a “girl” would open myself up to judgment that I was not ready for. In fact, at the school dance/3 on 3 basketball contest, a boy asked me to go with him but as a teammate, not a date–so I would be wearing tennis shoes and a sports bra when the other girls would be in dresses. At the dance portion of the event I smelled like rubber and sweat from the game–I didn’t get asked to dance but I did talk and joke around with the boys which was more than some of the other girls could do, so I was satisfied. If the boys weren’t going to date me, at least they would be my friends.
My second year of high school I tapped into my girlier side and found a way to merge being more feminine with being a varsity athlete. Being in the athletic crowd in high school earned me more friends and popularity, which was a bonus. I wasn’t afraid to talk to anyone and I felt like I could genuinely call most people in my grade my friends. I had a muscular physique which made me self-conscious because I wasn’t rail thin, but as I grew older I learned that most boys liked girls with some physical substance. My guy friends and I would have lifting contests in gym and my legs were usually stronger than theirs which impressed, not appalled, them. I learned to love my strong body and gained the physical confidence that I had been lacking in my younger years.
Being an athlete gave me a sense of accomplishment and pride, which is so important growing up. I was good at something that I loved, and sometimes I was even honored for it. Sports gave me the chance at scholarships for university and even got my name in the newspaper a few times after big games. I was given awards from my teammates and coaches and was recognized at school assemblies. I was in shape and felt healthy.
Now, at almost 26, I am still an athlete. I play on dodgeball, volleyball, and softball teams. I do still have moments where I feel a little too masculine–like grunting and cheering after hitting a guy with a dodgeball–but I am balanced with a feminine side that loves cooking for my husband and reading fashion magazines. Being an athlete actually attracted my husband to me on the day that we met and to this day he is always telling me how much he loves my strong legs–something that might intimidate other men.
I have two points for you: the first is that no matter which category you think you fit in, you don’t need to label yourself. Yes, I was sporty, but I also got great grades and was an over-acheiver in school. I liked going to the mall with friends and talking about boys late into the night. I went to church every Sunday and I was very close with my parents and brother. I could have been labelled as many things, but I was so much more than just one word could describe. The second point is that you should be proud of who you are and what you do as long as you are being kind to others.
Thanks @girlguidesofcanada for making me think about this topic!