Dear Journalists, Swimming Australia, Olympic officials and Media Outlets.
Meet my daughter. The Divine Miss T. She is 6 (and a half!), beautiful, talented and fiesty. She loves dancing to her own beat, writing and drawing, and jumping on the trampoline.
She has always wanted to be a dancer or a teacher when she grows up. Though this week she wants to grow up to compete in the Olympics in athletics, wear the green and gold, and win a medal for her country. Her desires are infectious.
But, she has been watching the Olympics on the TV, and at the tender age of 6 (and a half) she feels her new dream of running in the Olympics is already slipping through her fingers. All because, she says her best won’t be good enough. That she will not get Gold. And will not do any good. That she will be a disappointment.
Every morning we watch recaps on the TV over what happened while she dreamed of medals and national anthems. And every morning she is greeted with the following words assaulting her ears. Disappointing, Failing, Under-performing, bombed out. Tears from sports persons who feel they let their families, their coaches, their countries down. And each morning we argue.
“Australia is not winning! We only got Silver!”
“Silver is amazing honey. They are super stars who just won a Silver Medal!”
“But they did not WIN!”
“That is OK. Not everyone can win Gold. Many people go home with nothing. But they tried their best! They did as best as they could and their best is an amazing effort!”
“Oh! No it’s not! They didn’t get Gold! They LOST! Another country won and Australia lost. It is not good at all!”
“It does not matter if you get Gold, what matters is that you do the best you can on that day. You do the best in your heart, and the best in your body on the day that you compete, and if you do that, you can be happy and proud that you have done a great job!”
“But what about GOLD?!”
And so it continues.
You see, Tara is a perfectionist. She suffers anxiety and struggles with things not being PERFECT. About not getting GOLD in everything she does. She does this to her detriment. To the detriment of others around her. We have been trying for months to tell her that her best is GOOD ENOUGH. Just because it is not perfect, just because it is not GOLD, does not mean it is not GOOD ENOUGH for right now, for right in that moment. We try to tell her that SILVER and BRONZE and even 27th out of 27 is OK.
There are always others who are going to be better than us. In these Olympics Australia is not number 1. This is not a disappointment. Not to their fans, not to their families. They have qualified for the number 1 sports mecca in the world. They have overcome challenges within their own lives to come to London to wear Green and Gold and a smile of pride on their faces.
But what child – what “Divine Miss T” – would want to grow up to be an Olympian? Their best is never good enough, unless it comes with Gold. Their achievements over the past 4 years are dismissed. Their actions are challenged with bitterness and scrutiny. Because someone swam faster, jumped higher, rowed harder or raced quicker on the day.
Media in Australia, please lift your game. You have not shown pride in your country, you are not waving our flag, and you are certainly not reaching a PB. The Australian Olympians are amazing. What’s that saying again? Reach for the moon, even if you miss, you are still amongst the stars…
I hope the Aussie Athletes realise they are stars… and they can still influence the tiny stars who cheer them on from the other side of the world.
From a Mama of a Tiny Star.