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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

on failure.

May 1st is a day that is embedded in my mind for a seemingly silly reason. The year was 1999 and it was the much-anticipated, nausea-inducing day of Eighth Grade Cheerleading Tryouts. My soap opera-esque, 13-y/o life was rocked a mere year before, when the six spots reserved for incoming seventh grade girls were awarded to six other seventh grade girls. Including my three best friends. Not me.


At the time, it was the biggest level of devastation I had known. At the risk of sounding pompous, I’d never really experienced failure before. I was one of those kids that just excelled at nearly everything, and that coupled with the excitement that (most) every little girl has to become a cheerleader, just gave me a sense of confidence that was obviously unwarranted. To make matters even more depressing, when the sponsor read the alphabetical list of names, she initially skipped over one. Upon realizing this, the remaining 35+ teary-eyed girls perked up in anticipation of hearing their name being called out as the final cheerleader. And that was the moment when my third best friend’s name was called out to the group. 

Cue the tears. Not to mention the fact that that night, we were celebrating one of the best friends’ birthdays at an intimate slumber party. Me and two of the new cheerleaders. I may or may not have cried into my pillow while they fantasized about their uniforms and matching bows.
The next year was agonizing for me… the football games were anyway. The rest of the time was great—our foursome was inseparable and we spent a ton of time together. But Thursdays, they bebopped into school in their matching uniforms, and their lockers were all clustered together with their laminated and personalized megaphone signs. You can imagine, for a 13-year-old girl, how heartbreaking the year could be sometimes… especially for someone who wasn’t accustomed to losing out on something.

The year passed quickly, and before we knew it, it was time for tryouts again. I attended the initial meeting, and that night, talked myself out of trying out again, sure that I wouldn’t want to deal with the embarrassment of going through it all again—especially because the gals that landed the seventh-grade spots tended to just float into the eighth-grade spots as well. For whatever reason, I pushed through the hesitation and on May 1st, I was clad in my plain white tee, red shorts, and French pigtails for my second chance.  And when “#6” was called out at the end of the excruciating four hours, I was ecstatic… until I realized two of the three best friends who had landed roles the year before lost out on theirs (although, being released to the parking lot of waiting parents and hugging my teary mom was a moment I’ll always, always remember). 

The result was a year of occasional awkwardness, knowing they were silently sizing up my abilities at each performance. I busted my ass to be sure I deserved the role, but it was still a bit ho-hum, knowing it would have been so much better with them on either side of me. 

Point of the story being—I remember May 1st, always for this reason. Bizarre, yes, but it obviously has everything to do with my overcoming my first big failure, than it does the frivolity of being a cheerleader. I remember it like I remember birthdays and dates when loved ones passed on.

What little dates stick out in your mind?

1 comment:

  1. Oh girl, I remember the dread I felt when I didn't make 7th grade cheerleading. It was so sad. Don't remember the date, but remember the feeling!

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