Missy Franklin to DCSD girls: ‘Don’t strive for perfection. Strive to be the best version of yourself’
Five-time Olympic gold medalist shares her ups and downs in keynote address at 3rd Annual Shine Summit
DENVER – After winning five Olympic gold medals, it might be easy to think that Missy Franklin has it made. The Colorado-raised swimmer was quick to set the record straight, however. She told the girls attending the third-annual Shine Summit that she is far from perfect, and that is okay.
“I have never met a single person, no matter how they look from the outside, that is perfect,” Missy Franklin said. “It is hard for everyone.”
“There is so much pressure on us to be perfect, to not make mistakes. To look a certain way,” Franklin added. “Don’t strive to be this unbelievable version of what society says you need to be. Strive to be what you know you are capable of being.”
During the keynote address at the girl empowerment conference on March 10, 2017, she recounted not only the milestones in which she stood atop the podium, encouraging the attendees to reach for their dreams.
“Dream as big as you can,” Franklin said. “Whatever it is you want to accomplish, go do it.”
The Regis Jesuit High School alumnus also spoke about dealing with the agony of defeat, including her struggles in Rio during the 2016 Olympic Games.
“When you have a disappointing Olympic games, you can’t let it get to you or make you quit the sport you have loved ever since you were a child,” Franklin said.
She says it is in those moments when it is important to learn from your mistakes and to be open to constructive criticism, in order to grow.
“Be open to people coming up to you and telling you ways that they think you an reach your full potential. It is from a place of believing you can be better and that you can go even further,” Franklin said.
Additionally, she encouraged the participants to know themselves and to reach beyond what they think they are capable of. She encouraged the girls to take a leadership role, avoid gossiping and to practice what she calls “100% responsibility” – avoiding blaming others and the situation for poor outcomes.
“You are in control of your actions. You are in control of your thoughts. You are in control of your words to yourself and to other people,” Franklin explained. “If you know that you that you have done everything you could, you know that you handled yourself in the best way possible – that in itself is already a success.”
The students from Legend and Regis Jesuit high schools who organized the event said Franklin’s keynote fit perfectly within this year’s theme, ‘empowering girls to empower one another.’
“It was amazing to have this girl who has lived in the same place as we have. We could actually connect with her,” Legend senior Lizzy Higgins said. “A lot of times you get big-named people, but you can’t actually connect with them, because they don’t really understand your type of living.”
“Her facial expressions were great. She was so personable. You could really connect, even those who aren’t in sports,” Higgins added.
The girls also had the opportunity to hear from Project Runway junior contestant Molly O’Brien, who talked about her whirlwind experience in the fashion industry, as well as participating in multiple breakout sessions covering everything from women in business to self-defense exercises to creating healthy relationships.
“These girls are capable,” said Legend parent, Robin Cartwright, who organized a panel on motherhood for the event. “They are able to do anything. It is not just about girl empowerment and ‘women power’—it is about realizing that you can do whatever you want. I think this is a good forum for showing that.”
“It is a safe place,” Higgins added. “It is a place where you can share, where you won’t be judged.”
“I think it is important to have girls who are able and willing to speak up. It lets the other girls know, ‘it is okay. We all feel the same way, we all wonder the same thing,’” Cartwright said. “I think it is important to know that other girls have the same question.”
The event, in its third year, has significantly grown from its inception. It was originally envisioned by Cartwright’s daughter, Legend senior Kaitlin Ochs – and held at Legend, the PACE Center and now at the Denver First Church of the Nazarene.
“It has exponentially grown every year,” Higgins said. “I hope that a lot of other girls got to meet new girls and could connect with them afterwards. We all have the same common thread. It is why we connect at conferences like this – because we do have a common mindset and want to grow and be empowered.”
“It has been fun to watch girls from all different cliques come together. It isn’t something they can always do at school," Cartwright said.
She says that it has been fun to watch her daughter grow into a leader through the event.
“She felt in charge. She felt empowered,” Cartwright said of Ochs. “Today she was behind the scenes and didn’t stand out as much – and I think it has been good for her to pass the torch and for someone else to take over.”
Cartwright and the student organizers say they hope the event will continue to expand. This year, middle school students were invited and they hope in the future that it may be open to students from across Colorado.
“Sadly, I’m a senior so I won’t get to be here next year, but I am hoping that it will continue to grow,” Higgins said. “It is such a hopeful message. It is a wonderful opportunity that should be shared.”
MORE PHOTOS: DCSD Facebook Shine Summit Album