“Don’t B******* Lydia” – An honest insight

“The above is a necessary comment my psychologist said to me in a recent session.”

Lydia Thompson, England Women’s Rugby player and part of EP Emerging Leaders Network shares her story of how she’s stepping out of her comfort zone.

Whilst people may think rugby stars are ruthless and train every day to put their body on the line, they are still human beings and struggle with other aspects of modern life.

This is a very honest insight into writing my first article for EP Emerging Leaders Network. A quick background on me, I am an Occupational Therapist and a rugby player who has currently got 38 caps for England. I’ve been to two Women’s Rugby World Cups, a Commonwealth Games, a few Six Nations, some Summer Tours and played on the Sevens World Series.

I am going to be really open and say I have been putting writing this article off so much so that I haven’t replied to Kate Haywood EP. This is someone I have so much respect and admiration for, who is offering me an amazing opportunity and I always love speaking to.

I feel terrible inside and so rude not getting back to her, therefore I want to reply with some plausible excuse: ‘work has been crazy’, ‘I haven’t felt that inspired to write’, ‘I’ve been focusing on my rugby training’, ‘my dog ate my work’. All are true to some extent but those words my psychologist said to me in my last session, ‘Don’t bullsh**t Lydia’, keep turning up as I go to write Kate a sorry email reply.

What is really going on for me here?

I am an extremely sensitive person, something I don’t like to share, especially as on the outside I feel I’m supposed to be a “strong” female rugby player. Being sensitive isn’t something you would instantly think of as a wanted trait in someone who tackles and rucks for a living.

I am sensitive and I really, really care. Writing this article matters and with that I have put so much expectation on myself. This is my first article for EP Emerging Leaders Network and it’s been so hard to even put pen to paper. My expectation is to write a world changing article (if you have carried on reading to this point you will see I have dramatically dropped this expectation.) I want to write something that flows, provokes thought and inspires, but the reality is I can’t even string a sentence together. Every time I eventually do sit down to write I then experience the feelings of being a fraud, I don’t know enough, and I haven’t achieved enough to write. To challenge these thoughts I start to do some more research, buy another book off Amazon and download some inspirational podcasts. Before I know it I have spent a couple of hours of well meaning procrastination but the article is no closer to being written.

“If I could get rid of my thoughts and stop being sensitive then I would also get rid of caring, and actually caring really does matter to me, who I am and what I have been able to do.”

To write this article I have had to sit with those uncomfortable thoughts and accept they are present while I do something I value and care about. When something really matters but could potentially cause pain, rejection and social humiliation (e.g. the results of writing a terrible article) then the brain thinks it’s being really helpful to protect you and stop you taking grave action. Thanks Brain! This is really helpful when you are about to take on a lion but not when you are just typing a hopefully not too dull article for a fantastic group of people with a great mission.

If I could get rid of my thoughts and stop being sensitive then I would also get rid of caring, and actually caring really does matter to me, who I am and what I have been able to do. Caring is why I love being part of an elite team and seeing the people around me grow; caring is why I do my extra sessions even when they hurt and it is cold outside; caring is why I want to write for EP and share my experiences to hopefully inspire and empower others.

So this blog is my first attempt of being open and vulnerable, holding my thoughts lightly and taking the tiny action of writing and sharing!

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