Victoria Garrick Brown is a TEDx speaker, mental health advocate, podcast host and former Division one athlete who has amassed 2 million followers across social media where she's known for her unfiltered campaign #realpost. Victoria first began sharing her story of how she battled in, overcame depression and anxiety as a student athlete in her 2017 TEDx talk, The Hidden Opponent, which has been viewed over 500,000 times.
The Hidden Opponent has become a non-profit near and dear to us at LWP. Through this organization, Victoria strives to advocate, educate and support student athletes surrounding how mental health is viewed within the community.
“The culture of athletics makes it hard for athletes to differentiate between hard work and pushing too far. Taking care of mental health is associated with weakness.
Although a growing number of athletes have started speaking out about their struggles, an estimated 92% of colleges still don't have adequate support for athletes. Mental and physical health remain on separate playing fields.”
- Victoria Garrick Brown via thehiddenopponent.org
The “Advocate” bracelet is available on our website, and with each purchase, 25% of net proceeds are donated to The Hidden Opponent.
Keep reading for an inside look at the chat Adriana, LWP Founder and CEO, was able to have with Victoria!
Adriana Carrig: So can you tell us a little about that journey, how it's shaped your perspective on mental health and body image issues and how it's impacted the work that you do today?
Victoria Garrick Brown: Certainly, I never set out to do anything like this… I could never have predicted this career. But when I was a college athlete, while it was amazing and such a rewarding experience, it did so much for me in life. It was incredibly challenging… And it was the first time I ever struggled significantly with my mental health and didn't recognize myself as a person.
AC: What have you seen as some of the most meaningful outcomes of that advocacy?
VG: I think the most powerful way that I like to think about it makes me feel the most comfortable is like I could be maybe one domino in someone's life, or they saw my talk, they saw a post, they saw Tik Tok, they listened to an episode of my podcast, Real Pod, and then that was like a domino that encouraged them to have this conversation or to reach out or to search this thing or get this book.
AC: After being defined by your sport for so many years of your life, how were you able to find confidence within yourself once you no longer had that volleyball?
VG: So, it's incredibly common that athletes will struggle with identity when the sport is over. Your whole life, family, cousins, friends are like, “that's the volleyball player.” It comes up in everything and it's what you do. And then and that becomes who you are. And I have recently been doing a lot of work on myself, figuring out like, what is my identity? Who am I? What's my purpose in life? I think that's such a common big question we ask ourselves, and we can often be really scared of it as well.
I can be many things. I can be it how can I be in the present moment and open to whatever is going on and not and accept that maybe my identity and my purpose are not something I'll ever formulate in a sentence. And that's, that's actually the journey of life, because I won't put myself in a box.
AC: For those who are struggling with their mental health body image, what advice or word would you give them to start their journey towards healing and self-acceptance?
VG: I would say “worthy”. You're worthy of having the conversation. You're worthy of telling someone. You're worthy of taking up the space. You're worthy of seeking the help here, worthy of the journey of still being here. I mean, it can serve so many purposes, but oftentimes people feel like, you know, what's the point? Or no one will care or I don't deserve or I shouldn't feel.
AC: To finish it up, let's talk about the bracelet you made today. What Where did you choose? What are we adding to that stack?
VG: I chose the word “pause” because I have really been loving this quote recently that says, “Your first response is ego, and your second response is your higher self,” and I can be very quick to react and to feel. I'm a feeler. And being a feeler is a beautiful thing, but sometimes we need that 30 seconds or those ten deep breaths or that remove yourself from the room or look outside and not from your device and take that moment to pause and then proceed.
And I chose round beads because I just love the shape of something round. It feels very ongoing. It's a process. There's no hard edges, there's no end. It's just something that I'll need.
To see the full interview, visit our YouTube channel!