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Tough Decisions

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One of the most challenging things you will face in your life is surviving high school. You try to do everything you can to make friends and try to fit in, but it’s hard. Once you find your place, you don’t want to lose it.
The summer going into my sophomore year, I had to make the decision to spend the summer traveling with my family and hanging out with my friends or to try out for Maine South Cheerleading. It was a tough decision. Not many of my friends were trying out again, and even though I had cheered the year before and loved it, I just didn’t know if that was how I wanted to spend my sophomore year.
My entire summer would be taken up with practices and camps, leaving me barely any time to hang out with my friends during the day. I kept thinking about the previous summer. The long practices outside on the track in the blazing sun. I would come home half dead from running miles and doing a million push ups a day. I couldn’t deal with my coaches anymore. Yelling at us to keep going, to do another set of jumps, to do another stunt or cheer again. I just didn’t want to think about it.
Instead, I kept picturing in my head the sunny beaches on the east coast with my family, and the pool with my friends. I didn’t want to give that up for the second summer in a row. I was in high school, these are supposed to be the best years of my life. Not to mention, the season lasts from June through March. Nine months. Why give all that up for something that I’m not even going to pursue through college?
The night a few days before tryouts I sat down with my parents and had a long talk about this tough decision. I explained to them how I loved cheerleading and didn’t want to give it up but I could no longer deal with the commitment it brought on. As I stared at the glimmering raindrops making their way down the window, my mom asked me a question. Even though I would have more free time during the summer, would I be okay with missing out being a part of the football games that I loved so much? She also asked how I would feel without being apart of something with people so close. By the end of the season we were practically sisters. This really made me think. In my heart I knew I would miss not having a football game to look forward to every Saturday, and I would miss the bond I would create with my team. I sat there and thought back on the day of homecoming the year before.
I could tell it was going to be a beautiful day, even though it was 7 in the morning. The hot sun was shining vibrantly through my open window. The light breeze would make it easier to withstand the heat in those itchy, heat-trapping uniforms. I had an hour to get ready, gather everything I needed for the day and be at Maine South. By the time I got there, the rest of my squad had already started setting up the float that we would be riding on in the parade that morning. I immediately started to help blow up the red, black and white balloons that would later go in the arch over the truck. By the time we were done, my fingers were sore from tying the balloons. Driving down the street, I remember yelling out of the float to my friends and family lined on the streets. When the parade was finally over, we hurried back to Maine South and rushed out to the field to cheer on the sophomore football team. By the time the varsity game rolled around, the stands were packed so tightly that people were standing on an angle just so they could see what was going on. I remembered thinking of how the day couldn’t get much better. I had been with my team all day, cheering on my school in front of half the town.
I felt a sense of pride that I didn’t know if anyone in the stands could feel.
Coming back to reality, I was sitting in my kitchen with my parents, watching the rain fall. It was then that I realized in my heart I had already made my decision. I couldn’t imagine giving up that feeling I felt the day of homecoming or the days with my squad that followed. Even though my summer might be a lot less busy without cheerleading practices or weekend long camps, it wasn’t worth giving up what I got out of it. I had found my place.
The next week I had my tryouts. I was so nervous going in that I almost forgot my routine I was supposed to perform. Later that night, I found out that I made the JV team, a level up from the previous year. I also learned that a lot of my team from last year had made that team too. Instead of thinking about how crazy my summer was about to get, I just kept thinking of the next homecoming and how I was going to feel that sense of pride and bond again.





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