How does one decide when something is worthwhile? Do you write a list of pros and cons? Do you ask for advice? Or do you tip the scale both ways until there is an uneven distribution of satisfaction and something eventually gives way?
For me, cheerleading has always given back just as much, if not more, as I have put into it. But in all honesty, it has never been an easy balance to find. I have sacrificed and given up a lot in order to give my all to my sport of choice, as I’m sure many others who have participated in any type of highly committed sports team have.
Physical sacrifices are always the first to come to mind, at least for me. Being that I am not even 5 feet tall and just over 100lbs, I am the girl that gets thrown into the air and that has to stand on one foot and pull my legs in all sorts of crazy positions. Do I love it? Absolutely. There is no better feeling than sticking your stunt as hundreds of people have their eyes glued on you. But I cannot say that my body is too happy with me for the training, stretching, and unnatural twisting that it has endured in order to get me where I am today. I find myself yelping “Ouch!” and grabbing my back like an old woman in a nursing home at least 3 times a day because my nerves have been pinched and my back has been battered.
The balance is much more than physical, though. Cheerleading is extremely time consuming, as I’m sure all other collegiate sports are. With practice, men and womens basketball games, volunteer work, and competitions, it’s hard to set up a schedule for much of anything else. It is a daily routine for me to go to class in the morning, my internship until 5pm, hit the library for 2 hours, and then have to go to practice until 10pm, only to head back to the library for an all-nighter afterward. During the 5 minutes that I get to sit down in between all of my running around, I sometimes find myself thinking, “Uh, I really wish I had the night off from practice.” Having to get ready, usually grab a donut (yum) for dinner because there’s no time to make a meal, find parking up at the athletic center, run at the beginning of practice, and then have your body thrown around for 3 hours, is an exhausting thought to say the least. However, with the occasional exception of a crummy practice or game, I always walk out of practice happy and more satisfied than when I came in. Whether it be because I tried a new stunt that pushed me past my limits, or just because I got to enjoy a good laugh with some of my very best friends, it always ends up being worth it.
I’m sure that many of us would rather be taking a nap, shopping, or just watching TV in our spare time rather than being productive and exercising. It’s so easy to throw in the towel on things that consume our time and our energy. It’s easy to quit. It’s easy to give up. What’s not easy is trying to find a balance. It’s challenging and it’s frustrating and it requires extensive communication between a number of people. But when you find something that you’re good at, that you love, and that makes you happy – whether it be because it provides you with a healthier lifestyle or because it allows you to form life long friendships, or maybe just because it enables you to laugh once a day – then you stick with it. You search for the balance, you dig for it, you find it, you grab onto it tightly and you don’t let it go. Neverlet those things go.