In 6th grade I was just under 5 feet tall, I had braces and glasses, and knee caps bigger than my feet. My hobbies included reading, reading, and reading. We've already been over how I am not an athlete, so when I announced to my mother that I was trying out for cheerleading, you can imagine her surprise. Bless my mom's heart, she let me do it.
I went to four days of cheer boot camp, where I learned a slew of poorly rhymed chants, and crazy 8-count dances. Then I would go home and practice everything I had learned, 100 more times. I rattled chandeliers toe-touching off beds, and almost broke my mom's back, trying to get her to teach me how to do a back walk-over. I was in it, to win it.
Try-outs were held in the gym, primping was to be done in the locker room. Friday afternoon I walked straight into a mad house, a mad house run by cheer moms. My mom is a CPA, she was no where to be found. I went to the mirror, tied a red ribbon around my pony tail, covered my teeth in vaseline, pinned the number 12 to my shirt, and that was that.
I don't remember actually performing for the judges. I only remember taking one last breath of glitter-infused air, to try and slow my heartbeat, before running into the gym screaming like a mad woman.
The results were posted on the front door of the school at 5pm. I looked the paper up and down, no number 12. I thought I had just missed it, so I blinked a couple times and looked again. Tears started to blur my vision, and I realized there was not a one or a two anywhere on that paper.
Crushed, devastated, heart-broken, dramatic, hysterical, silly. All words you could have used to describe me. But it was middle school, so I was allowed to be all of those things. Before you jump to any conclusions, No, this didn't scar me for life, and No, it's not the worst thing to ever happen to me. It is however, the first time that I remember feeling like I had failed. I had done everything I could, and it still wasn't enough.
Failure's been on my mind, I'm afraid of it. I don't know many people who aren't. There are things I won't try and words I won't say, because I'm afraid to fail. A couple years ago, I found a quote by Winston Churchill:
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
I have failed at least 100 times since trying out for cheerleading, and I'm still alive. But sometimes I need to be reminded that it's the courage that counts.