Learning From 2016, As Told By A College Athlete

Written and courtesy of Sarah Stone 

2016 taught me many lessons, but most importantly, it taught me to love myself.

I know, you’re probably thinking that this is all going to sound a little cliché, but just bear with me for a moment.

2016 was one of the most challenging and difficult years of my life, but it was also the year that taught me the most lessons.

There were times during 2016 in which I thought I would never love myself. I relied way too much on relationships with other people to make me happy. I thought that if I was constantly pleasing other people, I would somehow find happiness (and I learned the hard way that this is not true).

2016 taught me to enjoy every moment with the people around me, and spend less time worrying about the possibilities of what could go wrong.

I learned to fill my mind with positive thoughts rather than toxic thoughts. I spent too much time criticizing myself and focusing on the imperfections of my body. This way of thinking caused me to create a great amount of self-doubt. Each and every person should be kind to their body.

I would constantly compare myself to other people. I would discredit all of the features that made me who I am. I would look at other people and think, “Oh, she’s skinnier” or “Oh, she is so much smarter than me.” I would compare my body, my athletic ability, facial features, and MANY other things to the other girls around me. But time taught me that all of my different features make up my individuality. 2016 taught me that I don’t want to be someone else; I don’t want to have a skinnier physique and I don’t want different facial features. I am enough.

2016 taught me that heartbreak would be painful, but that I would move on and become a stronger person because of it. I learned that I must love myself first and be completely comfortable in my own skin before getting involved in a relationship. Because, if I don’t love myself first, then that relationship is bound to fail.

Dealing with depression during my sophomore and junior year of college was one of the toughest hurtles for me to overcome. I tried to balance school work with intensive training, as a division one swimmer. Yet, the toughest part was trying to hide the pain I was feeling from my family and friends. I have always been known as the girl who is always smiling and I couldn’t stand the thought of others knowing the internal battle that I was fighting. I didn’t want people to look at my differently, so I thought it would be easier to mask all of the pain I was feeling.

I didn’t want to tell anyone, not even my parents or my best friends, because I felt as though I would let them down and disappoint them. I reached the point where I struggled to even get out of bed; I didn’t even feel like myself anymore. As time went on, it became harder and harder to conceal my depression. I felt anxiety even when I went to go visit family members. I knew, this was not me. I used to be so extroverted and have the ability to make conversation with anyone. How did I reach this point where I just wanted to be alone? I did not even recognize myself anymore.

I did not want people thinking I was weak if I reached out and asked for help, but looking back now, I was never weak, I was just hurting.

2016 taught me that it takes strength to confide in someone when you are struggling. My family and friends have shown nothing but support for me as I continue to move past these barriers. Opening up to others and sharing my experience has helped me heal and grow as an individual.

The root of all happiness begins with our thoughts. If we are constantly beating ourselves down and neglecting to feed our body with positive thoughts, the cycle of unhappiness will continue.

Above all, I have learned that we should always be kind to one another, because each and every one of us is facing a battle that nobody knows about.

I am currently in my senior year of college with a double major in public
relations and advertising and a minor in media studies. I have been swimming since I was 6 years old. I am from the beautiful state of Texas and I currently attend school in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am proud to be a student athlete (soon to be swammer). I am obsessed with coffee (especially Starbucks) and not a day goes by that I don’t eat pretzels! My writing is intended to provide hope to those who are hurting or those who have experienced personal struggles. 


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Nancy malone
5 years ago

So proud of you. One amazing woman. Thanks for sharing that so many of us have suffered from
Love you. Aunt Nancy

Nancy malone
5 years ago

I am so proud of you for sharing this story Sarah. There are so many of us with the same issues. You have grown into abeauriful woman that I have come to know and love these last several years. Your parents are so proud of you. I see their faces light up when they mention all your accomplishments. Proud to be your Aunt Nancy.

Nancy malone
5 years ago

Sarah, what a beautiful testimony and the courage to share it with so many. So many of us suffer with self esteem, Boundaries and just being ourselves. I have gotten to really know you so much in the last several years. You have grown up to be a beautiful young woman. I love you. Your parents are so proud of you. I see how my sisters eyes light up when she talkes about you. And your dad so excited to see your accomplishments. Once again I shout to others what an amazing family we have. Thank you Sarah. Always. Aunt Nancy

Brad Flood
5 years ago

Great story Sarah, best wishes to you for a GREAT Championship Season and a bright and successful “swammer” life!

On another note, if you are a “preztel-holic”, like me, you gotta try UTZ Sourdough Specials…they have the best “CRUNCH” and are loaded with salt….MMMmmmmm Good!


Nancy malone
5 years ago

O Sarah this was such an uplifting testimony. Myself struggling with self esteem issues most of my life, I am
So proud that you put it on paper to share with all of us. You are a beautiful woman that in the last couple of years has become my friend and I have grown to know and love even more. You have terrific parents that are so proud of you. I want to shout that again how blessed we are to have a wonderful close family. Your aunt Nancy

Chris Kinser
5 years ago

You are beautiful inside and out .. I’m proud of you for speaking out ..

Alice Stone
5 years ago

Amazing story! I know that there are many people out there who can relate to this. College students and athletes, and everyone in between. Thanks for sharing!