Girls Can(t) Play Pool.

At TEDx Edinburgh last year I was sat next to one of the people involved in the creation of the event when we all went out to dinner – an amazing young woman called Lisa Cusson. I was so inspired by our conversation that I asked her if she would like to write a blog for my website.

Here is what Lisa sent me. Enjoy!

As a young girl growing up in rural Scotland there are a lot of preconceptions of what you can and can’t go on to do and options for a career can be very limited. I knew from an early age I wasn’t a country girl, I didn’t want to be a housewife or a farmer. I wanted to live in a busy city with big lights, I wanted to be busy every night and hold my own as a professional woman.

Obstacles

For me this was made even more challenging by being dyslexic. As a 5 year old girl I had different work books from my friends, I was easily distracted and fell behind quickly. Through primary school I worked at a lower level then my friends and found even simple things like reading aloud for the class challenging and I started to shut down and become ashamed of what I couldn’t do. Fortunately my family were very supportive and I never saw my learning disability as something that could hold me back… Until I reached academy.

Immediately we were placed into classes of foundation, intermediate and higher classes, being separated from my friends and being in a new environment where achievements and grades was everything. I couldn’t structure an essay, it took me 2x longer to read a piece of work and even longer to process it and put it into my own words. To add insult to injury our family had faced some challenges and I began to shut down and not engage with them or my friends.

I got a part time job cleaning pots and pans at my local pub and the only people I would talk to or open up to were there –  middle aged men drinking and playing pool till midnight every weekend, not the best environment but it was mine.

However this put a new obstacle in front of me, I can’t drink and apparently girls can’t play pool, I would ask if I could play with them and my dad was on the team so of course they said yes but I would get beat (obviously) so I stopped asking.

Patterns

The pattern of seeing what I couldn’t do continued through to standard grades and 5th year where I performed… below average and didn’t even care.

The academy soon started talking about university’s and applications and where you couldn’t go and what professions you couldn’t do. It was all about what you can’t do, where you can’t go and being ‘realistic’. I had no idea what I wanted to do, I just knew what I couldn’t do.

Why can’t I go to Edinburgh and get a degree, why can’t I get the Highers to go to university with my friends?

The fact is I can, and I did! As soon as your change your perceptions and what you think, is when you can start taking control of what you want and how you can get it.

Everything is achievable and everything is realistic!

As soon as I said to myself, I can get my Highers, I can go to college and I can go to university and I can play pool! Impossible - possible

Everything changed, I started to look into what I was good at and parties and events planning was it!

I threw myself into my Highers and extracurricular activities. I also started opening up and battling the demons that had been holding me down.

First was the dyslexia, I started to read every day and got extra help from trained teachers at school. Quickly my performance picked up and I started enjoying school.

Secondly was self-confidence, yes I am dyslexic and it makes me the creative, out of the box, blue sky thinker that I am today. It was no longer holding me back and I could explore what I was good at and even things I was bad at and coming into my own person, making my own decisions and taking control of my situations and not letting them take control of me!

Finally, pool. I started playing after work with my boss every weekend without telling any of the regulars. After a few months I was quite good and started challenging my dad, after a few more evenings and weekends over a period off years I started to beat him and started to challenge the rest of the bar.

Now, I don’t exactly look my age at 21, so at 17 to be in a bar and challenging middle aged men to pool, they thought it would be easy. Not true! I soon became the youngest member of our pool team and competed for, Deeside Woman Cup, I got beat, but I did it! At 17 I reached the final and lost but I’m happy about it!

When someone tells you that you can’t do something, go and do it and do it well because YOU CAN!

To find out more about Lisa Cusson check out this link Lisa Cusson – LinkedIn

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