Because of these experiences, people often ask me what it is like to be a "girl" in a boys' world (especially in sports) and how I "handle" it. I can say, it is has been a journey... learning from my mistakes, and ultimately coming to accept what it means to be a girl/female athlete... boys be darned. That said, it was not always easy to find my way. There were times when I struggled with inadequacies when I compared myself to the guys around me. Other times, I had to fight my urge to lash out "against" the boys because they stood in the way of something I wanted or they took priority in a sport where I felt that girls deserved equal billing. And, some of the worst moments were when I was starting to feel good about my skills and abilities and then was shot down by guys around me because I was out-shining them. In these situations I have been called cocky and arrogant and many other terrible names. So, as you read the conclusions I have come to, realize I arrived at them through a lot of difficult and soul searching moments. I am sharing them because, I hope they might help you on your own journey. (Or, if you are a guy reading this, I hope you will see women in sports through new eyes and will become a cheerleader for the women athletes in your life!)
One thing I have learned is that it is important to be known for your strengths. Don't waste time defending your weaknesses. A good example of this for me is rugby. The women's team in Steamboat was started as an afterthought to the local semi-pro men's team. We have been a team for just two seasons and can only practice for about 4 months each year. Plus, 50% of our practices are with the men's team who are BIG and STRONG, and who take rugby very seriously. On the other hand, we are the smallest overall women's team in the western USA. So, we rely on strategy and speed to score, rather on on brute strength. It took me a year to accept the fact that I could be 5'3", 110 pounds and still be "good" at rugby. Initially, I would go to practices, look at the big guys doing tackling drills and I would feel "too little" to ever be a good rugby player. Eventually, I learned that being fast is my biggest asset. Have you ever watched a troll chase a fairy? Well, that is my world, now. The boys still make fun of me for being tiny; but, I have learned to laugh at them and embrace it. I can run so fast that even they can't catch me.
I'd love to hear about the challenges you have faced in your efforts to "play like a girl".