My name was nowhere on the list. Standing outside my junior high school with scores of other hopefuls, I kept staring at the typed list of names hung in the window. It had to be a mistake. I was meant to be a cheerleader. How could I have not made the team?
I tried to fight back the tears, but they wouldn’t stop. At twelve years of age, I learned how it feels to work hard, dream big…and then have your heart swell with pain at the posting of 12 names—12 names that didn’t include my own.
I cried myself to sleep that night, not having developed other coping skills at the tender age of 12. My parents tried their best to console me, my father even brought home a present for me that night—a sterling silver brush, comb, and hand mirror vanity set—something he told me should remind me of the inner beauty and strength he knew I possessed, regardless of any teams I did or didn’t make.
. . .
I still have that silver vanity set. I used the mirror this morning and was reminded that it’s your failures in life that make you stronger. Character is forged through enduring tough times, not having things come easily to you. My silver mirror still serves to remind me of this.
In hindsight, there are many things worse than not making cheerleader. I know that. My life has been punctuated by many setbacks and challenges since that first dose of disappointment. But you know what? That first bitter taste helped to shape me into something stronger. And it motivated me to work harder.
The next year, I did make the team. But more importantly, I had found within myself the strength to persevere.
Life is full of challenges. Look for the silver lining. Take disappointment and mold it into inspiration. I’m proud to have been a cheerleader, and one of the greatest lessons I learned through cheerleading is to never give up on your dreams.
— Jenni Parrish