Savvy Simo Shares Her Story: Part 3


It’s all about perspective. How are you going to turn your curse into your gift?

Trigger Warning: This article series discusses anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. 
Note: This is Part 3 of a 3-part series. Click to read Part 1 and Part 2

My dad and I have spent many, many hours talking about this, crying about this. I had a very bad, spontaneous panic attack over Christmas. My whole body was shaking uncontrollably, something it had never done before. Thank God I was with my family at home and not at some volleyball tournament across the world. I laid in bed with my dad for hours that night, sobbing my eyes out and shaking uncontrollably. He just held me and comforted me and told me thousands of times that I was going to be okay and that it was going to pass. I was yelling that I wanted to go to the hospital, that I wanted to see our family friend who is a doctor. 

Looking back, it makes me laugh because, in the grand scheme of things, I ended up being totally fine. In that moment, I felt like my life was slipping through my fingers. I think that was one of the times I was the most scared because I felt completely out of control. My dad and many others have seen me at my lowest of lows, but he just knows how to calm me down and reassure me that I am OK. He always reminds me that this “curse” that I think I have could actually be a gift. He tells me that everybody has “afflictions,” and everybody has something going on in their life that they struggle with; this is my affliction. It’s all about perspective, and if you think that this is a curse, it’s going stay that way. But if you can find a way to reframe it into a positive, it really helps change your mindset and your outlook on whatever affliction you may have. I did some research on this type of thinking, and the first article that came up was one that actually changed my whole mindset on all of this anxiety. 

In part, it states, “In the beginning stages of self discovery there are times when we become aware of what actually is, however, the pull to slip into habitual safety can distract from pushing further into new territory of your potential. Having a good moral foundation or good enough parents doesn’t guarantee anything when it comes to the tapping into your gift. What does assist in this discovery though, is yourself and the assistance you receive along the way. Acceptance or assistance can be a tricky maleficence if it isn’t in line with uncovering your gift and can actually cause the curse to show face in a more radical way. Looking at the word curse, for most, it holds a negative connotation. Though, when closely examined, the curse can assemble the catalyst for a self-transformative experience. The curse doesn’t walk away unrewarded. Yes, tapping into your gift means understanding the existence of your curse…The curse is useful and necessary to discover the gift, as it acts as a motivator for discovery. The gift, somehow sees the curse as unnecessary once discovered yet unable to completely eradicate its existence. For good reason, to serve as a reminder for self to not retreat. If retreating does take place, to not backpedal for too long…The coexistence is inevitable, yet the hopes is for the light to shine in darkness. To come to terms with your gift is to know your curse. It’s a receipt and recipe for the extension of self in the world and the utilization of self.” 

Take that as you will; it’s quite philosophical. It took me many reads to understand it. But it really struck a chord with me. It talks all about digging into your curse (even if it’s uncomfortable), finding assistance along the way, and to not retreat when times get tough or scary. We are all trying to figure out our own meaning of life, even if it’s scary. Dive in, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it. We all have a light that shines in this world that needs tapping into. It takes people years to figure out their purpose. I’ve spent years wondering why I deal with these problems and why I have to suffer through this “silent” struggle. The more I dive into this “curse,” however, the more I realize what my purpose is. 

I posted my story on Instagram a couple of months ago. It was originally just meant to be me journaling about what I was going through to try and get some sort of relief and clarity, and understanding. But for some reason, I just felt compelled to share my story, so I posted about it. It was amazing to see how many people felt helped by me just sharing my story. I also had tons of people share their experiences with me and share what has helped them as well. That also helped me navigate my struggles. I think it is so important that we lean on each other and help one another get through the hardships in life. And I think this is part of my purpose: to use my platform as an athlete to help others through their struggles by being open and vulnerable by sharing my story to make others feel less alone. 

I’ve always been super extroverted and very willing to share my stories with others. For some, this comes easy, but for others, not so much. And that’s okay. You don’t have to share every detail about your life with everyone and anyone, nor should you (something I probably need to be more aware of). But I will say: I truly believe that everyone needs to have someone, even if it’s just one person, to feel comfortable enough with to share their stories and thoughts with – the good and the not-so-good, the uncomfortable, the scary, the happy and the proud-ofs, the ups and downs and everything in between. Whether it’s a parent, friend, sibling, significant other, coach, teacher, sports psych, therapist, doctor, or whoever…find your person and share your story. 

I still have anxiety issues today, almost every day. And I probably will for the rest of my life. Anxiety doesn’t really go away. I mean, everyone experiences anxiety in some form. Whether it’s stressing about finances or health or your job or family, or having a panic attack, everyone experiences stress. You can’t escape it, but you can learn how to manage it. The tricky part is that there isn’t one correct way to deal with it. There are tons of ways. And I have tried just about everything under the sun, except for a psychedelic experience or daily medication like a lot of people have suggested. 

I have found a few things very helpful throughout my years of practice and self-reflection. I am incredibly stubborn for some reason with all of this. I think it’s because I’m afraid to try new things and fail at them. There’s no easy, one solution that fits everyone, and that’s very intimidating at times. So all of these things are still taking a ton of work and practice for me (and a lot of my boyfriend Evan reminding me to do them). I have not mastered any of it, but have tried a lot. 

Mindfulness and meditation are still things I am working on because they’re super helpful for me. I have the Headspace and Calm apps on my phone; both are amazing. Breathwork is tremendous, especially in the moment of panic. Sleep is so incredibly important, so I prioritize sleep. Before bed, I get off my phone and read to help me relax. Regular exercise, ice baths, limiting alcohol intake, and eating well all help. I don’t cut everything out all the time; I want to still live my life and let loose! But I try my best more days than not. 

My biggest recommendation to every person, no matter their level of anxiety, is: don’t be afraid to talk to someone. I lean on a lot of people for support, and I don’t know what I would do without them. I have a sports psychologist that I speak to a lot, more than just about volleyball. It is so important not to bottle all of your feelings, fears, struggles, and insecurities up. It’s all going to explode at some point. 

Feeling alone is the scariest thing in the world. Remember to check on your friends and family, too. You really never know what someone could be going through behind closed doors. As people – athletes in particular – you are taught to act tough and are expected not to let a bad day or mental struggle get in the way of anything. That’s bullshit. 

We all have struggles, some more than others. It’s okay. Embrace it. Don’t hide it, run from it, or let it get out of hand before talking to someone. Everyone has their things…talk about it, own it, and learn to find the positive in it. It’s all about perspective. How are you going to turn your curse into your gift? 


If you or someone you know is living with panic attacks, anxiety, is struggling emotionally, or has concerns about their mental health, there are ways to get help.  You may use these resources to find help for you, a friend, or a family member: 

Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger or go to the nearest emergency room.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 

  • Call or text 988
  • Use Lifeline Chat on the web (English only)
    The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Call or text 988 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. 

Disaster Distress Helpline 

  • Call or text 1-800-985-5990
    The disaster distress helpline provides immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. The helpline is free, multilingual, confidential, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Social Media Concerns

If you are worried about a friend’s social media updates, you can contact safety teams at the social media company. They will reach out to connect the person with the help they need.

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