If you are one of the people who has decided to Boycott the Olympics due to human rights issues, I totally respect your decision but know now that this blog post probably isn't for you. BUT if you are like me and LOVE sport, then here we go.
I've always been a huge fan of sport. My youth was spent in an ice rink playing Ringette and Ice Hockey (in case you want to know what Ringette is click HERE) and that experience of competition and team play has shaped who I am today. There is something about pushing yourself to be the best you can be, working your ass off and having people who believe in you to help you get there. What I learned from my 18 years of playing competitive sports has directly translated into how I approach my acting career. I don't take no for an answer, I don't accept when people tell me things are impossible, I don't play it safe and I push the boundaries every day. I know what is possible, I've been the underdog and walked away with a medal when no one thought we would make it past the first round. There is nothing better than coming from behind and showing people what you are capable of. And even when you lose, there is still something about knowing you have done everything you could that makes you feel a sense of pride. I have a ton of silver medals sitting in my closet and I've learned just as much from losses as I did from wins. Competition drives you, it feeds something in your soul and it makes you reach higher than you ever thought possible.
And that is why I love the Olympics.
These athletes aren't playing for a paycheck (yes I know about endorsements, sponsorships, etc but let's put that aside for the moment) they are playing for pride of country and being at the top of their game. There is something so incredible when you watch an athlete do their best and then stand on top of the podium.
I've always enjoyed the Olympics (the Winter more so than Summer, but I'm from Canada and I think it's obvious that we are a winter sport country) but it wasn't until I had the experience of a life time in Vancouver in 2010 that I truly understood the power of the games and how it can unite a country. I was going through a pretty crappy time in my life. The US had denied my VISA so after 2 years of building a life for myself in LA I had to pack up and move back to Vancouver. I felt like a failure, I didn't know what I was gonna do or how I was gonna do it. But luckily for me, I had already signed up to volunteer for the 2010 Olympic Games. For 3 weeks I was smack in the middle of the Olympic Hockey universe. I spent time with the athletes, watched the games and experienced my city come alive in a way I had never experienced before. I saw what is possible when you put your mind to something and I knew that I would be okay.
The Olympics bring people together. To cheer on your favorite athletes is exciting. To see the Canadian Flag (or the flag of your country) raised while the national anthem plays makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. So even though I'm sitting on my couch in my pjs (don't judge, with the time difference all the sports are very early in the morning), I still feel inspired by these athletes. I see what they have sacrificed for their sport, the time they have put in and I recognize that in myself. It reaffirms to be that I am doing the right thing. I want to be at the top of my game as an actor and if I want that I need to push myself. To quote Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own "Of course it's hard, it's the hard that makes it great." (They may not have been the EXACT quote, but you get the idea).
Right now Canada is kicking some serious ass at these games and that fills me with pride and happiness. I will continue to watch and cheer and show my Canadian pride for as long as these games go on and I hope that you will too (obviously I would hope everyone would cheer for Canada but cheer for your own country is you must). Best of luck to the athletes, push yourselves and strive for your best. And I hope that everyone (including myself) will take a page out of these athletes book and strive to be the best they can be. Even if you fall, finish the race. Not one single athlete throws in the towel even when they know they are out. Even the girl who smashed her head so hard during the Snowboarding Slopestyle competition that she passed out for a second and cracked her helmet, finished the race. Never give up and keep your head held high - no matter what. That is what it's all about. Put the politics aside and see the games for what they are meant for - bringing people together.
I don't know about you, but I'm gonna be trying a little bit harder right now, striving to achieve my own personal best - not only in my career but in my life. Oh, and I think I'll be hitting the slopes tonight :)