Updated: Sep 2, 2020
"This is a wonderful day. I've never seen this one before." - Maya Angelou
When I was going from middle school to high school, I had my first surgery that took me out of practice for just about the whole summer, and then had complications later on. I struggled finding my desire to go back to practice. I was tired of having to rehab and relearning old skills. I just wanted to be where everyone else was. At the end of my freshman year of high school, I decided I wanted to quit and do cheerleading instead. I went to cheer practices at my high school for about one week, and was certain that I didn’t belong there. Gymnastics was the sport for me. I missed the thrill of flying in the air and making it look easy. I had never been so grateful for my sport.
Going into my senior year of high school, I did my best to take practices day by day, because that was the only way I could handle my busy schedule along with figuring out my future in terms of getting recruited. I tried to relay my perspective on how lucky we were to just be doing the sport to my younger teammates when they had bad days. I honestly think that without this kind of thought process, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today.
Flashfoward to my time in college. There were many experiences that were the complete opposite of what I expected to endure. Life hit me like a freight train, and it only emphasized how small gymnastics was in comparison to the entire world. Having that realization, that the world was still going as we stressed about matching leotards, sparkles, and having a block M sticker on your right cheek in an arena, made me appreciate the opportunity that much more. At the same time, I think it got to the point where I wanted to embrace it so much that I started to put too much pressure on myself. It turned into an obsession, rather than something I did for fun. I know for a fact that I do my best gymnastics when I’m having fun and laughing, and I lost sight of that. Looking at gymnastics as a small part of my life, that complements my education, my hobbies, my friends and family, and everything else, was the key to any success I had ever had.
Sorry for jumping around so much, but those are some memories and realizations that stand out to me when I think about how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to do my sport for so long. I think in today’s society, we’re starting to place too much emphasis on the competitive nature of sports. To me, I see the importance in learning about competition at a young age, but not at the cost of losing the fun side of it. I was sincerely a kid that just wanted to flip and laugh with her friends while flipping. I hate that I lost sight of it, but I’m grateful I had it. Right now, I’m trying to find that again, without the flipping of course. Be grateful for the opportunity to do sports, play outside, and have fun. Be grateful for where you came from and those that built you up. There’s so much more going on in this world, and so many that don’t have the ability to do those things that we so often take for granted. Enjoy every moment, that’s most important.