We live in a world dictated by perception. As an athlete, pressure arises when we become aware of expectations. Will I let my team down? What if I underperform? What if I’m not perfect? Am I good enough? Strong enough? Tough enough? These are all questions that go through my mind and that I’m sure most people, whether you’re an athlete or not, can relate to. Victoria Garrick sure can.
Victoria is a public speaker and content creator whose work centers around mental health and body image advocacy. But, as her #RealPosts on Instagram reveal, Victoria is much more than that. She’s human.
Entering the University of Southern California as a Division I volleyball player, she began to feel the pressures that came from the expectations of the Division I athlete identity.
“I first realized I was struggling mentally during my freshman season at USC. 2-3 months into the Division I volleyball season, I really started to feel the pressure, the stress, and the change. I just wasn’t doing great, but I couldn’t even figure out what it was that was making me feel this way. It was almost as if I had so much going on that I didn’t have time to sit and think about the fact that I wasn’t okay,” Victoria admitted.
Unfortunately, this feeling that consumed Victoria during her first months of college holds true for a lot of athletes, and she wanted to do something about it.
“Having dealt with my own struggles, I felt super alone and also kind of ashamed of what I was going through. I definitely felt alone when it came to anxiety and depression because those things (especially as an athlete) I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone because it would make me seem weak or like I wasn’t good enough or I was worried I would lose playing time. With the body image issues, I honestly felt ashamed. I couldn’t figure out how to eat right. Once I started to get help for all of those things, I slowly started to realize how common it is to struggle with your mental health and how many people are going through the same thing. So, I really wanted to normalize that conversation and raise awareness and also let people know that it is totally okay to not be okay,” she said.
It was during her sophomore year that Victoria kick-started her career with what she describes as the moment that changed her life. She gave a TED Talk called “The Hidden Opponent,” where she described the mental health issues facing student-athletes, and exposed the truth about the real obstacles athletes overcome.
“At the time, I felt like the conversation around athlete mental health specifically was not as important nor was it happening as much as it needed to be. I really wanted to contribute to and raise awareness for the mental health issues pertaining to athletes.”
And that she did.