God's Plan May Not Be Your Plan
As of today, September 8, 2019, The University of Alabama is still my first love. Ever since I can remember, my goal and dream was to go to The University of Alabama and be a cheerleader on the All-Girl squad. I planned to be a backspot because that was my favorite position, but as I stopped growing and everyone else kept growing, I realized that I would have to settle to be a secondary which was the only basing I was doing if I could help it.This was my dream before I even started cheering, which then led to me being put into cheerleading. I cheered for 11 years and 9 years competitively all hoping to achieve my dream some day.
When I was younger and even today almost everything that I owned was crimson or affiliated with Alabama. I would get shirts with sayings on them and tell myself that I had to memorize them because Alabama was everything to me. The first one that I memorized when I was about 5 or 6 was on one of my favorite shirts that I wore all the time. I still have the shirt today because it is so special to me and will never get rid of it. It was a Girlie Girl's Original and it said "Bama girls can say anything with class and pride, but nothing is spoken more classier than Roll Tide." I lived by this saying and I still do. (I didn't even have to get out the shirt to remember it.)
Ever since I can remember I had an Alabama cheerleader that looked like me with my name on the uniform as an ornament on the Christmas trees at my house and my nana's house. I felt that it was my destiny to go to Alabama and cheer. So at this point you're probably wondering why I didn't go to Alabama and cheer on the All-Girl squad as a backspot then secondary base? Well that's a long story but it mainly starts in seventh grade.
Let me first start by saying the cheerleading was my life. Everything I did revolved around cheerleading and that was all I knew, but I could count higher than 8 and my heart never beat in 8 counts.
By seventh grade I was cheering all-stars and middle school. This was my fifth season with all-stars and second season with my middle school. More people that I had cheered with in the past had joined the middle school team and more of my friends. I was excited because I thought that I would start having fun with more friends. In seventh grade is when "The Clique" started. It was almost all of the seventh graders on the cheer team except me and maybe two or three other girls. My parents always told me that people would change as they got older. This was the year that the change started.
Eighth grade was my last year cheering all-stars and my final year of middle school. Eighth grade was the best year cheering for school that I had. That's also the year that I started self harming myself and started having suicidal thoughts. Remeber that clique I was talking about? Well they only got worse. At this point I really hated cheering, especially all-stars but school cheer was better and we were a really good team. I was hoping that in high school cheer would be different and that I would start enjoying myself. But, boy was I wrong.
Ninth grade was the worst year of my life. The summer before ninth grade cheer was HELL. I hated every minute of it and was being left out even more. Plus older people on the team were mean to the freshman. Ninth grade is when I had started coming to the realization that I wasn't going to be cheering at The University of Alabama. There is a long story that goes with cheer this year, especially Nationals and what happened when we got back, but I would have rather died than to go through what I did. I started self-harming multiple times a day starting in January 2017.
My coaches, parents, friends, therapists, doctors, and even school administration knew that I was being severely bullied on that team. I had no friends and no allies and would purposely have things happen to me because I wasn't liked for some odd reason. Another time I will go into detail about what happened but after that season I didn't want to even live let alone cheer.
One of the coaches told me that I should cheer my tenth grade year because she would look out for me and would be able to keep me away from the bullies instead of punishing them and making sure they wouldn't be on the team. I decided that since she had almost begged me and told me that the team really needed me, that I would try out.
My Plan Continued
Tenth grade, my last year of cheering. I really didn't want to cheer this year and was told by many people to quit, but my mom wouldn't let me and would make me feel bad for trying to. This year I had some friends on the same team with me, but the bullying didn't stop.
By tenth grade I would do anything not to cheer but, it wasn't the sport that I hated (besides tumbling), it was the people who made me hate it. I still had the thought that maybe it will turn out to be okay and that I will continue cheering and cheer in college. You're probably thinking that I don't have to cheer all my life to cheer in college. That is partially true but, I wouldn't be able to just stop cheering and expect to have all of my skills still without conditioning them and myself.
By the time that February came around, I knew that I wasn't cheering my junior year and I was telling everyone. Many people knew what I was going through since being on that team since freshman year, but no one really knew except my therapist. My mental and physical health was deteriorating and I had already battled many injuries that I couldn't give time to fully heal unless I stopped cheering all together.
I knew before February that my dream of cheering in college was not going to become a reality. I thought that my life as I knew it was over. My whole life I had been known as the cheerleader to my family and my parents friends. Everyone saw me as just a cheerleader except my friends. Most of my friends didn't even know that I was on the cheer team at school and I was fine with that. I thought that I needed to reinvent myself for when I'm no longer a cheerleader. But then I remembered a quote that I remind myself of everyday but wasn't really listening to. "Everything happens for a reason." I would tell people this and when it came to cheer like not hitting a stunt or something, I would think that there is a reason that this is happening.
So I stopped cheering after tenth grade and it is the best decision that I have ever made. I had to remember to listen to myself when I would think that "everything happens for a reason" because it really does. At the end of 2016 I really started to put more effort into my relationship with God and the bible. On Christmas Day in 2016, I decided to accept Christ into my life and took the oath to become baptized. I remember on that day, my pastor saying "God has a plan for you", and it didn't hit me until years later what that really meant.
At the beginning of the summer of 2018, I was ready to have the best summer of my life because I wasn't cheering and could do what I wanted. I spent a lot of time in Alabama with my grandparents and was going to church a lot. God started really speaking to me and I realized that God didn't want me to cheer at The University of Alabama.
If God wanted me to cheer in college, then he would've made my time cheering much easier and enjoyable. It would've been easier for me to get and keep skills, I would still be cheering, and I would've been having fun while doing it. God had a different plan for my life and that didn't include collegiate cheerleading.
Knowing that this was God's plan made me feel better about most likely not achieving my dreams, until I saw others doing what I had wanted to do my whole life. I was resentful for a while and sometimes still am. I always thought that it would be on the sidelines doing the fight song during football games and cheering on the sidelines for my favorite team of all time. I thought that it would be me in the uniform and with all the practice clothes. I thought it would be me at Nationals representing my whole Universtiy. I felt these things so much so that in 2015 I watched the All-Girl and Coed team performances so much that I learned both of their cheers, motions and all. I had even learned most of the fight song. God had to remind me multiple times that that was not going to be me.
I really started seeing God's plan for me in February 2019. I have so many plans and goals for my life and God saw that I wouldn't be able to do those things and cheer. I plan to get my Bachelors within three years at The University of Alabama and to study abroad. I want to be a member of AKA sorority. I am going to get my Bachelors degree in Psychology and Women's Studies. I will get my Masters, then my Doctorate in Forensic Psychology all in less than 10 years. By the time I'm 30 I am going to be working within my field and be in the FBI before I am 40. God knows all these plans and dreams that I have and by continuing to cheer, I wasn't going to be able to achieve these things.
The years that I did cheer, God wanted me to get something out of it, and I did. He put me through all the bullying while cheering to make me a stronger, better person. I am not saying that being a cheerleader is bad. It put me through a lot and I learned a lot of life lessons that I will never forget. But, stopping cheer wasn't the worst thing that happened to me. I thought that my life would be over after cheer, but it only got better.
I finished high school my junior year and got accepted into The University of Alabama's Early College Program. I've received invitations, applications, catalogs, and even scholarships from over 70 different colleges from around the world, even some of my dream schools and ivy league schools. Schools I even planned on going to for my Masters and Doctorate like New York University, Johns Hopkins, and Marshall. Schools that I never thought that I would ever be able to get in to and that I never thought would ever want me like Columbia, Spelman, and The American Univeristy of Rome.
I'm not saying that if I would've continued cheering that I wouldn't be able to achieve what I have because I don't know that for a fact. I do know that I most likely would not have been able to graduate early because my mental health would have deteriorated too much to be able to do extra classes. I wouldn't have been able to participate in the University of Alabama's Early College program from the time that I did because the times that I was working on assignments, papers, or doing webinars I would have had to be at a practice or some type of function with cheer.
Stopping cheerleading has led me to a better life as of September 9, 2019. I have been accepted to my dream school, The University of Alabama, and will be starting classes in January. I have been accepted to other colleges and am so excited to start my college career. I'll be on campus at Alabama next fall, hopefully be a member of AKA, and to be living my best life. No, that doesn't include cheering, but I can still go to the games and be in the stands with my friends chanting "Rammer Jammer". This was God's plan all along for me. He wanted me to get to where I am now but saw that I wasn't ready yet. He put me through everything that he did to get me ready for my life now and in the future. If that journey had to include severe bullying and doing something that I had lost love for a long time ago then it is what it is. I'm not going to say that I wouldn't change anything because if I could I would but, God put me through this journey and wanted me to become more than "the cheerleader". No one else's journey is going to be like my own and my journey is not like anyone else's. God has a plan for you, me, and everyone else and all you have to do is just follow the path that he is leading you on. That's what I started doing at the beginning of 2018 and am still doing close to the end of 2019. The path that God is leading me on has had some wrong turns and detours, but he has never led me astray and never will.