Saturday, May 13, 2017
Smile Like You Mean It
When I was 14 & a freshman in high school, I tried out to be a cheerleader. One of my aunts had been a cheerleader (was great at it/loved it) & I wanted to be like her & it was kinda a given that I too would try out.
So I did.
But being clueless about sports in general (still kinda am), I tried out to be a basketball cheerleader & not a football cheerleader as I had assumed. Not that I had a preference, but we had a killer basketball team & a not so great football team - the competition to be a basketball cheerleader was fierce; there was a lot more cache.
Again, I had no idea.
I worked my a$$ off during tryouts. I didn't stop & I really wanted to quit. I was not athletic at all & at times I thought I might actually die on the field where we did the workouts & practiced the audition routine. My clearest memory is doing these bouncy squat things where we'd countdown & chant, "THIS FEELS GOOD!"
Y'all, it did NOT feel good.
It felt like my legs would burst into flames. Couple all of this with being socially awkward (lack of hair will do that to you) & this was waaaay beyond my comfort zone. I don't think I even knew what a comfort zone was. Trying out to be a cheerleader might as well been like trying to fly to the moon - flying to the moon with pom-poms as my wings!
The day of the tryout I nailed the routine. I could have done it in sleep & apparently I did; I didn't make the squad because I didn't smile enough. I was so scared that I forgot the cheer part & didn't smile. This was the specific feedback from one of my teachers who was also one of the judges - I did just fine, but I looked as terrified as I felt.
I wasn't completely heartbroken or surprised when I didn't make it (clearly in over my head, of course), but it seemed, even at the age of 14, such a stupid reason to not make the team. I could learn to remember to smile, right? Wouldn't making the squad give me dozens of reasons to smile? Concentration, hard work, & not quitting don't often beget smiling. Isn't skill & showing up more important?
I don't write all of this because I harbor a cheer leading grudge, although I do think it would have been a positive influence on this weirdo kid's life & changed so many things in my world. I started thinking about it when I read this:
“Smiling doesn’t win you gold medals” - Simone Biles to the “Dancing With the Stars” judges who suggested she smile more.
I don't follow the show, but I hope she wins & even if she doesn't, bravo for competing, for showing up, for trying, for doing something outside her realm. That's the stuff!
I'm also glad I didn't have to learn to remember to smile; some days though, I think it's something we all have to remember. I am a huge fan of "fake it til you make it" but smile because you want to smile.
Shake your pom-poms & cheers,
ps. if you aren't familiar with the song I referenced in the title, check it out here ('cause it's one of my faves!). plus, Brandon Flowers, y'all! :-)
pss. that song is like 10 year's old now! what?!?