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Coming to Terms with Pain by Ayodele Harrison

“If you’re not playing with pain, then you’re not playing this game right.”  These were the words of one of my football coaches in college. I believe his words were meant to motivate and inspire me and my teammates. Or, maybe they were meant as comfort to me as I felt racked with pain in my knees after most practices and definitely after every game. Whatever the case, over the years playing football – little league, high school, college, and coaching – my relationship with pain hasn’t been so healthy.

Back in the day, I trained day in and day out, well…I’m lying, I trained regularly. I did it to build muscles, increase flexibility and develop a high tolerance for being uncomfortable. All of it was par for the course when it comes to playing the game of football “right”. I remember a time back in high school, when I definitely had a concussion, but I kept practicing. I recall that a simple lite tap to my forehead would send a throbbing wave of pain across my brain. Crazy now thinking back, but back then, I thought it was a normal part of being a football player. 

Just a few weeks ago, at the seasoned age of 44, I realized that: 

  • – I have trouble acknowledging when I am experiencing physical pain
  • – I don’t like telling people about it
  • – I want to begin reshaping my thinking around pain. 

All this new thinking started with a trip to my podiatrist in April. In the first podcast episode listed below, I talk about that trip to the doctor and the subsequent events that led to my inner wrestling with using the word “pain”. In the second episode below, I share new thinking about how I hope to better communicate my pain to others, and I make the case for why it is absolutely critical that Black Male Educators have access to intentionally curated and facilitated spaces where they can more effectively come to terms with and manage the psychological “pain” they experience everyday in schools.

Take a listen. 

Coming to terms with pain. 

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