Lessons from Simone

Simone Biles

Source: Creative Commons

If you’re a woman, you know the feeling. 

That feeling of needing a break but you can’t take one. That feeling on having too much on your plate but not being sure if you can take anything off it. That feeling of needing to say no but worrying something won’t get done if you.

It’s a lot. 

It’s a lot to handle. 

It’s a lot to maintain.

It’s a lot to expect out of us.

And that’s why I believe when Simone Biles said ‘nah’ in Tokyo, a collective cheer rang out among women across the world. Especially Black women because let’s be honest, the expectations put on us far exceed the ones placed on other women.

For years, Simone has carried USA Gymnastics on her back. 

She’s carried it despite the scrutiny she’s endured. She carried it despite the changes made to competition scoring. She’s carried it despite being questioned about why she continues to perform passes, routines and stunts that other gymnasts are afraid to attempt. Her response, “Because I can.” She’s carried it despite the questions about her body makeup. She’s carried it despite the toll it has taken on her – physically, emotionally and mentally. She’s carried it despite them cultivating an atmosphere that allowed Simone and other gymnasts to be sexually assaulted for years.

So yeah, when she said no, it was a yes for many of us.

I know there are hundreds of women who will read this and nod their heads. They’ve been there. Multiple times. In a place where they needed to just stop and honor what their bodies were telling them. But how do you stop in a world that constantly pressures you to keep going?

You do what Simone did.

You resist.

You fight back.

You say no.

Over the last few years, I’ve intentionally worked to create a life of balance. And authenticity. I’m determined to be true to myself, my needs and my purpose. Even in taking on this approach, there’s always room for improvement. There’s always lessons to learn. And there’s always opportunities of growth. That’s where I find myself after witnessing Simone’s bravery on sports biggest stage. 

Here are some of my takeaways from Simone’s courageous stance:

  1. Even when you’re experiencing a high in life, it’s ok to take a step back to protect your overall health. You don’t have to push through just because the spotlight is on you.
  2. Say no whenever you need to do so. Don’t get caught up in the situation. Don’t get caught up in the ‘what might happen if I don’t agree to do this.’ Don’t chastise yourself, internally. If you need to say no, say no. In that moment, you don’t owe anyone an explanation. However, you do owe it to yourself to take care of you, first.
  3. Don’t let circumstances prevent you from evaluating the situation in its totality. Yes, you may disappoint some people. Yes, you may make some people angry. Yes, you may catch some backlash. It’s worth it to protect yourself, right?
  4. Stay in tune with your body at all times. It will alert you when things have gone awry. If it’s screaming for rest, give it rest. If it’s screaming for sleep, cut your phone off and go to sleep. If it’s screaming it needs a break, give it one. 
  5. Listen to your inner voice. When making decisions especially those that could produce controversy, you can easily end up with clouded judgement. Trust yourself. Trust that you know what you need. 
  6. Healthy mental health should always be a priority.

I’m proud of Simone. I’m proud that she owned the power that she has, that we have over our bodies, and said nope. Not today. May her example be one that we can all follow.


Kassaundra Shanette Lockhart is a freelance writer.

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