On Feb. 8, the athletes of Wellesley Blue attended an event hosting Victoria Garrick. Former Division I athlete at the University of Southern California (USC) and TED Talk speaker, Garrick is a prominent advocate for mental health, discussing topics including intuitive eating, managing stress and most prominently discussing the “hidden opponent”: mental health. Last Tuesday, after hailing from multiple states giving her acclaimed discussion on pre-match anxiety, the College was thrilled to host Garrick in the Jewett Auditorium in the Academic Quad.
Garrick shared her own experience as a starter on USC’s Women’s Volleyball team. Discussing not only her extreme dedication to the sport and balancing sports with academics, the California native began to go into depth about how her anxiety became her number one enemy, or as she described, the “hidden opponent”. Garrick’s speech was impactful, inspiring and most of all, relatable. Though the College is a Division III institution, anxiety is unfortunately of no insignificance to the Wellesley Blue. As a member of the Track and Field team, I was very familiar with the anxiety and fear that Garrick discussed.
Garrick talked about how her performance anxiety viciously destroyed her love for her sport. A perfectionist at heart, when posed with the question of whether or not this anxiety could potentially be a strength, she paused, responding that anxiety is neither a strength nor a weakness, but rather it is both. She recognized the salience of this question and claimed to have been there herself. After her talk, the athletes were able to meet her and ask her all sorts of questions. Also the owner of popular TikTok and Instagram pages, many of the audience members recognized her from her influential online presence.
When it was finally my turn to have a word with Garrick, I had several questions for her. I posed Garrick with a series of both serious and silly questions out of an attempt to both connect with the speaker on a surface level as well as hear her opinions regarding more serious matters.
When asked how she deals with collegiate pressure, Garrick responded, “Honestly, you just have to stop setting expectations for everything, when I stopped setting expectations for everything, I felt this weight just lift off my shoulders. Question the norm, you can’t always optimize out of everything.”
I then asked where the line is between mental toughness and deterioration. She replied by discussing how she has come to recognize her state of being and her peak performance, describing improving her mental health by “doing reps” and in order to sustain and create good mental health, you must train your mind and then your body.
My final question was about how one is supposed to move on from past mistakes. Garrick smiled and said, “Prepare to make mistakes.”
After we had our deeper conversation, I asked her how she liked Wellesley, her favorite Gatorade flavor, a good pump-up song, and how her partner, Max, supports her. She responded with her experience at Armelinas in Boston in which she had excellent carbonara. Her favorite Gatorade flavor is light blue, or dark purple depending on the day, and her favorite song to get hyped to is “Levels” by the late Avicii.
Garrick provided the Wellesley Blue with advice, anecdotes and a friendly face that said “I’ve struggled too.” The Jewett auditorium was filled with hopeful smiles and intrigue as they saw a former student athlete with similar fears persevere and stand before them. We loved having Victoria Garrick, and we hope to see her again soon.