I was a competitive gymnast for 18 years. I spent most of my youth training to be better, stronger, more fit, and more perfect. I competed all over the country once a month and by the time I was 12 had made the level 10 junior Olympic national championships, which would be the first of 4 over the next 6 years. I put an immense amount of pressure on myself to be perfect. Every toe point, every score... every podium, trophy and medal meant the world to me. All the girls who would turn into women who would come in ahead or behind me... how did we treat each other? How did we view each other? And more importantly what did we think of our selves?
We were sisters, and we were teammates. We shared everything- chalk, stories, dreams, broken bones and hearts. We believed in each other when we were giving up on ourselves. We laughed harder than anyone laughs and saw each other cry almost every day. We learned about life together. We assessed the crazy grown ups. We got into all kinds of hilarious mischief! You sisters taught me what it means to be a friend, and truly you were my best friends (you know who you are.) And also... we were young, wounded, scared, and impressionable. Sometimes we were so freakin mean. We put each other down and talked badly behind each others' backs. Maybe we even hoped once our twice that the other would fail, so that we could have her place.
I got a full gymnastics scholarship to Penn State and competed there for 3 and a half years. I am still dismantling deep seated beliefs of not feeling good enough and comparing myself to other people. Stuffing my emotional and physical pain inside of me so that I can look good and be tough (ya feel me?) But I have learned through time that it isn't being stoic that is really heroic, it is being vulnerable. Honest, transparent, and real. Forgiving, loving. Sometimes I just have to stop and feel gratitude for all the hard work, dedication, effort, time and willpower that me, my family, coaches put into supporting and helping me to become the badass gymnast I was (and will always be deep down). And sometimes I have to have a little compassion for myself, dang that was no joke.
I'm 7 years gymnastics free! The lessons keep unfolding.