Welcome to “In Our Own Words”, a platform for USA Cycling members to speak candidly about issues that are important to you. I am excited to hear from each of you about the things you are passionate about, the trials you have overcome, the victories you are celebrating - anything and everything you want to share!
We all have moments in our lives that have significantly shaped the people we are today and for many of us, the thought of sharing our stories with others is terrifying - it entails a level of vulnerability that we are hesitant to embrace. We may find ourselves thinking that we are the only person who has ever felt this way, experienced this challenge, or been paralyzed by a particular fear. We often convince ourselves that no-one could understand where we are coming from or relate to our experiences. That if they knew who we really were then they would look at us differently.
Have thoughts like this ever crossed your mind? They have definitely crossed mine. Thankfully though, I have also experienced the incredible freedom, comfort and inspiration that can come from hearing someone else’s story and recognizing that it is similar to mine - that I am not alone. There is freedom in sharing our stories and being accepted not despite, but because of what we have been through and where we are headed. Sharing our stories also reminds us that who we are is way more than the sum of what we do or have done.
My hope is that this platform will grow into a space where you can feel heard, connected, supported and accepted regardless of whether you are a casual outdoor enthusiast or an Olympic gold medalist. We have the opportunity to create an open and engaging culture within USA Cycling through sharing our stories. I want everyone in our community to feel safe and proud to unashamedly be themselves. I hope that reading one another’s stories will provide an opportunity for each of us to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and come to appreciate one another’s differences rather than feeling threatened by them.
Honestly, my dream is that, over time, we will be quick to empathize and slow to judge. That we will ask questions rather than insert opinions. That we will offer support instinctively rather than waiting to be asked. That we will listen (via reading) rather than constantly speaking. That we will gain perspective rather than simply offering our opinion. That we will begin to expose and reprove unacceptable behavior and stand alongside those who have been marginalized rather than staying silent or turning a blind eye. That we will celebrate and mourn with one another when appropriate rather than staying isolated. And, that we will give permission to ourselves and others to seek and accept help when needed because, let’s be honest - we all need help at some point. Let's evolve into a community where transparency and vulnerability are viewed as a sign of strength and courage rather than weakness. Because that’s exactly what it takes to be vulnerable - courage and strength.
USA Cycling’s community is made up of many unique individuals with varying experiences, and each one of us has a story to tell. I hope that this platform gives you the freedom to raise your voice and share yours. Your story matters.
Director of Safesport