“Did you hear? We are going to have a cheerleading squad and everybody is trying out.”
When I heard those words in 6th grade, I didn’t give them a second thought. I had always been a pretty secure kid and I had my own interests. Cheerleading was never something I had dreamed about doing. After school, as I walked up Flatbush Avenue with my bff Lisa, all she could talk about was tryouts. Turns out, after finally getting a basketball team, cheerleading was the key way to spend time with the boys. Lisa was BEYOND boycrazy so she was all hyped up to represent for the Holy Cross Crusaders.
After hearing her (and every other girl in school) talk about it for the next two weeks, I inevitably got dragged to the tryouts with her. I was sitting on the sidelines as all of the nervous girls were lining up and stretching. My job was to reassure Lisa that she would be fine. One of the 8th graders came over to talk to me. “You should try out.” I looked around to make sure she was talking to me. “Who Me?” “Yes, you should try out. It’s going to be fun.” Since I could never say no to a challenge (and secretly, maybe a small part of me wanted to wear a short skirt like my friends) I said why not.
I was in the first batch of tryouts. They showed us a routine. Then said go. I was able to muster my way through that. In my head, I thought….that’s not so hard. Then they asked all of us to do a roundoff and a split.
Needless to say, my brief cheerleading tryout was over.
I watched my bff Lisa become a cheerleader. Soon afterwards, she began dating a basketball player. After that, all of our music and book discussions turned into discussions about making out, wearing his chain and “who was that girl staring at my man during the school dance”. My friends were growing up at a faster rate than I was. While they were hit with the boy bug, I was still reading the Hobbit and the Chronicles of Narnia. My nerd tendencies ran deep.
I thought about this experience today for some reason. I’d like to think that not making the cheerleading team was a pivotal moment in my pre-teen development. I learned that not everything was for me and to trust my own instincts and be myself. I also learned that I was not good at everything. Failure can be a good experience, especially when you can pull a lesson from it. I never did have an interest in cheerleading but I did graduate Valedictorian from my Junior High School. I also learned that while I was not set out to do leaps, kicks and pyramids, I was still a pretty good athlete. I found my niche playing softball, tennis and running. That failure set me in motion to go outside of my comfort zone and find other things I was good at that I enjoyed doing.
There’s something to be said for not always accomplishing a goal and what you do when faced with rejection. I learned that I’m a pick up the pieces and move on kind of girl who can’t do a split.