Gimme an I. Gimme a G. Gimme a C. What’s that spell IGC? Why do you care? Because this island gurl, for a very brief period, was one of those girls: a cheerleader.
School: Charlotte Amalie High School
From Nerd to Cheerleader?
I have no clue what possessed me. Maybe I needed a change in scenery – friends, school hangout spots, extracurricular activities. Maybe I was looking for a new outlet to release my creative juices. Whatever it was, it was (in my opinion) out of character for me to even think about going for it. But I did it anyway.
In my last year in high school, I decided to try something different. Introvert, quiet, keeps to myself, me, decided to tryout for the cheerleading squad.
I was mostly known as a nerd throughout my school days. I don’t know if it started when I was named Salutatorian in elementary school or if I had the label way before that point. But most kids knew, if you needed somebody to cheat off of in junior high or high school, it was always good to have a spot in close vicinity of me.
Practice and Tryouts
Once I had set my mind to go out for the team, I practiced everyday after school. One of my friends who was on the team, helped me to learn my stretches, jumps, and routines. Then, when I got home afterschool, I practiced some more on my front porch. If anything, I was going to be ready for the tryouts and grab me one of those spots on the squad.
I could see myself in the cheerleading uniforms at school games or for campus rallies. I thought for a brief moment, this was actually something that I could do and wouldn’t hate.
The girls on the team who practiced with us and taught us the routines were actually nice. Most (not all) didn’t fit the stereotypical cheerleader mold. They were actually friendly and eager to help newbies like me. Some I even remain friends with after the fact.
On the official day of tryouts I was ready. I had memorized all the routines, plus I had my two jumps that I would do for extra points. It was a success, almost.
Keep Your Participation Trophy
I made it as an alternate. To me it was like a participation trophy. You know, that thing that they give the kids so that they don’t feel bad about not winning the game.
I mean, i should’ve been grateful. There were people who didn’t make the squad at all. But I felt like I was the girl you called when the one you really wanted got sick and couldn’t perform. That’s a motivation killer for an intuitive teenager.
The other girl who made it as an alternate with me, went on to be a very active member of the cheerleading team. That could’ve been me too, but I just couldn’t get beyond the consolation prize. I went to the first practice session when the new school year started and then I decided that I did what I set out to. Mission accomplished.
What I love most about this experience that I remember is that, I was able to do something that I wouldn’t have normally done and succeeded. I didn’t stay on the team in the end, but the true lesson for me was that I didn’t have to stay inside of a box, self-imposed or otherwise.
Trying out for the cheerleading squad broke down barriers for me that I thought were always supposed to exist (as a teenager). Some people don’t learn that lesson until later on in life.
Whatever it is that you want in life that you think that you can’t have because of some self-imposed barrier that you or society has placed around it: GO FOR IT ANYWAY. Life is about taking chances and having little to no regrets.
In the words of Jimmy Cliff: You can get it if you really want. But you must try. Try and try. Try and try. You’ll succeed at last.
And in the words of this island gurl: be true to the island gurl in you.
What did you join or try out for that was outside of your comfort zone? Or what were you afraid to go up for that you wanted growing up? Share your story in the comments. It could help the next island gurl to step out of her comfort zone.