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Photo ofZoe Blair
It was freshman year and I had just made varsity on the girl’s lacrosse team at my school. I was super excited because I had worked hard and pushed myself to get to that point. A week passed and one of my closest friends told me something that another person had said: That the only reason I had made varsity was because of my last name and connections to the coach. She went on to say that I had no talent for lacrosse at all and that I was put on varsity because, if I wasn’t, the coach would’ve felt bad for me. A lot of emotions went on when I heard these things. Mostly I was shocked because I didn’t know that’s how some people saw me, but I also felt hurt and sad because I believed everything I had done up to tryouts was just a joke and didn’t matter. These words really got into my head and put me down as a player and a person. I felt stuck. I chose to let all these emotions build up inside of me. I started to believe that everything she had said was true and that my position on the team really didn’t matter. I became really quiet and in my room a lot; I was not my normal loud, annoying self that my family was used to. 
My parents were the first to notice this change in my mood and decided to sit me down at the kitchen table and ask me what was going on. I sat there for over an hour crying, telling them everything that had gone on. They were shocked because they had no clue that any of this was happening. My parents assured me that I did matter and that everything I did paid off because the coach saw potential in me. This conversation made me feel better, but I was not completely happy because I still had doubts and was still letting someone else’s words affect my thoughts and happiness. After our conversation, my mom emailed my coach and a teacher I was close with to have a conversation with me. A few days had passed and my teacher pulled me out after class one day to talk to me; I told her the whole story and she comforted me and reassured me that everything would be ok and that I just needed to see myself how everyone else around me saw me. I continued to go to that teacher over the next week after our conversation just to talk to someone and tell them how I felt that day; this really helped me to just get rid of my thoughts and feelings. That afternoon after practice my coach also pulled me aside to talk to me. I told her the same story and she told me that I do have talent, that I do matter to the team, and that I was on varsity because she knew I would be an asset. This conversation with my coach changed a lot. The switch from not loving myself to bouncing back to my normal self did not come quickly; it took time for me to really reflect and learn to love myself again.  
Finally, I began to see myself differently and my mood changed completely; I was happy and loud and bounced back to the person that everyone knew. I started to wear my last name proudly and I was back to my normal self because I stopped caring about what other people thought about me and I realized that I let one person’s hurtful words affect everything about me. I told myself I would never do that again because the only person’s thoughts and words that matter are my own. 

© Zoe Blair. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.