TEDx Westshore isn’t a platform where rocket scientists go to unveil their latest inventions. It’s a place where people like you and me learn about new opportunities and ideas that affect our lives and our communities, why they matter, and how we can come together to best sustain a fruitful life for everyone.
Meeting Kevin Tiller II was like reuniting with an old friend; we shared jokes and thought-provoking conversations. Best of all, he taught me what life is like working in the sports industry and living with mental health challenges. You can hear his whole story live at TEDx Westshore on October 29th, 2021. But, today, he gives us some insight into his talk.
Marla: I heard you would be conducting a TEDx talk? Tell me more.
Kevin: I will talk about a subject that many people may find taboo; The pursuit of healthiness within the professional sports community. I will be speaking about the mental health aspect of health care.
Marla: I see you went to school for Sports Leadership. Is this the career path you chose, or did you have something else in mind?
Kevin: I did choose sports. I earned my Master’s at VCU in sports leadership. I decided on sports in my undergrad years, and I am still in sports now.
Marla: If you had another choice in career if sports weren’t an option, what would that be?
Kevin: I’d want to be a teacher or a film director. If I were a teacher, I’d like to teach an elective class something along the lines of life lessons, entrepreneurship, or business. They don’t have those classes yet, but I’d probably create them if I were teaching.
Marla: What led you to study abroad, and what impact did that have on you personally or professionally?
Kevin: A curious mind is what led me to study abroad. My best friend and I studied in Shanghai. I wanted to learn about international business. The opportunity presented itself, and I said why not.
Marla: What impact did living in Shanghai have on you?
Kevin: It showed me a whole world. The tall buildings, the scenery, It showed me that there is so much more to life than what I’d seen previously. It’s hard to put into words. There was a notable difference between living in Shanghai then returning to one of the smallest cities in the country. It encouraged me to dream big.
Marla: What or who do you credit for your success thus far?
Kevin: First, I would credit my success to the Lord God. Secondly, my family, and my friends. I am lucky, but I have good friends. Furthermore, I can’t leave out the various people I’ve met along the way that have helped me get to where I am today.
Marla: What would you say is the most significant misstep of an individual's pursuit of healthiness?
Kevin: Not taking the time to evaluate yourself is a step many people overlook when pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Ignoring internal issues and not doing the hard work to change is one thing that many people bypass when on a journey to finding themselves. But you’ve got to dig deep and challenge yourself. Most people think to be happy you’ve got to have a job, a relationship. However, I’ve learned that happiness is more than external successes; it’s how you view things, how you feel, and how you externalize the way you think.
Marla: If you could tell a child something you wished you would've learned when you were younger, what would it be?
Kevin: I wish I would’ve learned about me. When you grow up your whole life dealing with mental health issues, you never knew why you learn to mask what you are going through. You become accustomed to that identity. However, I needed a solution. I wish I would’ve known how to take care of myself properly—understanding how to be healthy, mentally. It took me detaching myself from everything and reinventing my physical self.
Marla: Do you feel like those closest to you supported you with the mental health challenges you faced?
Kevin: I was taught to ignore or to get over it. I don’t think our community was thoroughly educated on mental health issues. However, I always sought out help. Counseling helped me find healthy ways to cope. You can still have a good life even if you have mental health issues. I’m living proof of that. But, I had to do the work alone. I later discovered more holistic approaches to living a healthy life. After implementing healthier eating habits, setting boundaries, and become more aware of myself, I was able to take better care of my mental health.