Ithappened again today. It's not their fault and I'm sure they don't mean anythingby it, but every time someone asks, it adds salt to my open wound.
I tryto avoid the question, yet it manages to track me down daily. "Are youplanning on doing gymnastics in college?" These words trigger emotions I tryto suppress. I've seen it happen to other girls, good gymnasts too, and now Ihave found myself in their position. I am just not quite good enough to competefor a NCAA Division I team.
I lie in bed as I write this. I'm tired aftera typical day: I wrote an essay, studied for an exam and went to gymnasticspractice for four hours. Most nights I fall asleep the instant my head hits thepillow, but not tonight.
The answer to that question continues to hauntme. No, I am not going to continue with gymnastics in college. No, I'm not goodenough. And no, I don't need to answer this question anymore. My defensemechanism responds as if it doesn't bother me, but I have to grit my teeth tohold back the tears. On nights like this, a few manage to escape.
For solong, I thought I had made it. And yet, my collection of ribbons, medals,trophies and newspaper articles and titles of MVP and captain will all becomememories in the scrapbook under my bed. Newly mastered skills and the same cheapgold gymnast on every trophy have brought me a sense of satisfaction; although mywhole life doesn't revolve around gymnastics, a good part of it does.
What am I to do when this part of my life comes to an end? Who will I be when Iam no longer a gymnast? Am I ready to give it up? Don't I need more time? Aren'tthere routines I haven't yet mastered?
I only wish I had as muchtalent as I have dedication. I never gave in to the urges to quit when thingswere rough, and now I feel like a senior citizen of gymnastics being forced intoearly retirement.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.