This afternoon was my last time cheering at a home game for the rest of my life. After cheerleading for almost 15 years, this was a very big turning point in my life. I have always had the next season to look forward to, the next game to prepare for, the next weekend full of double-headers to consume all of my time, and now that has come to an end.
To be honest, in the moment of it all I was surprisingly calm and collected, I felt relieved in a way that I could finally decide how to spend my own time without having to work everything around these games. But per usual, I only realize the impact of things when I compare them to other issues that are going on in my life. And this time around, it made me realize how bittersweet it is to end a chapter in your life or to take a step, a leap, rather, in a whole new direction. It made me realize that while sometimes the circumstances are out of your hands, there are times when you are in complete control of what happens in your life. And those are the times when you must step back, evaluate, and decide what is best for you as an individual and no one else.
The fact that my participation in cheerleading is coming to an end and will never come back again is one of those things that I cannot control. Sure, I hope to earn a career in marketing for a cheerleading organization, that would be ideal. There are small ways in which I can keep cheerleading in my life forever, and I plan on doing so. However, I will never get to be a part of a cheerleading team again. I will never be able to be on the sidelines clenching my fists and yelling out to my basketball teams “FIGHT FOR IT! YOU GOT IT!” again. I will never be able to be thrown 15 feet in the air and do a back tuck mid-air again. Those are things that are out of my hands. And that is bittersweet. It’s a part of who I am that now has to be put in my past. It has helped mold me into who I am, but it cannot be put on display anymore.
Other things in my life, however, are in my control. Things like my tolerance for undeserved circumstances. I have been coined to be blindly optimistic to the point of devastation. And it’s such a strong characteristic of mine that I don’t think I’ll ever truly learn to be any other way. I wouldn’t want to be any other way, though. I like seeing the glass half-full. I like going through my day believing the best in people and their capabilities. It makes my day more fulfilling. But it also makes the bad things that happen feel one hundred times worse than they really are. And after that optimism gets thrown in your face, makes you look like a total fool and a complete doormat, and smacks you in the face with a big “this is hurting you WAY more than it’s helping you” reminder, then you learn to adjust your tolerance, your actions, and the benefit of the doubt that you give to the people you love. I have learned, in the most difficult of ways, that no one, no matter how near and dear to your heart, is worth second guessing yourself. No one on the entire planet is worth wasting happiness for the sake of confusion and heartache.
It’s one of the most difficult lessons to learn, trying to distinguish when to try harder and when to give up. But here’s what I have learned: if you have the opportunity to control your own circumstances, do so. If you have the opportunity to eliminate people, whether temporarily or permanently, from your life who only bring you down, do so. If they learn their lesson and decide that they can actually bring optimism and love your way, then reevaluate. Until then, remove them. You have to be able to stand on your own two feet, be confident, hold your head high, and smile without having anyone else contribute to your own self-worth. Learn to be proud of yourself, to forgive yourself, to appreciate all of the things that make you unique and wonderful, and to love yourself more than anything or anyone else in this world. Because at the end of the day, you’re it. You are all you have. And if you don’t love and respect yourself, why would anyone else? These things are the most important in life, and these are the things that you can control.