A life-changing experience

Eight-year-old me didn’t realize how huge of a decision she was making when she decided to start gymnastics— it’s easily the best choice I’ve made in my entire life. From the beginning, I never expected myself to fall in love with the sport, and I never thought I would still be enjoying it to this day. The journey to find comfort and serenity within the sport, however, wasn’t the smoothest.

Though I started when I was eight, my career actually started, I’d say, three years later when I began competing. Judging by my first few competitions, I was consistently placing first and scoring high, but for some reason, I still found myself unhappy and unsatisfied: things came too easily to me.

In the following years, I began to score lower and progress more slowly, which colored me demoralized. Because my success seemed effortless in previous years, I became discouraged when things didn’t come as easily as before. Going to practice became a chore for me— mastering skills became harder and I had less motivation to work hard to be successful. Making a premature assumption that I had already reached peak performance, I wanted to quit; I found no point in staying with the sport if I had no more potential to improve.

I found myself flourishing again when I was about 13 years old, but in a different way. Unlike my 11-year-old self, flourishing did not mean, in any circumstance, that I was winning countless awards or performing perfect routines. However, I had an epiphany that victories did not have to be defined by winning awards or being able to master skills quickly. Instead, my personal victories lay in simply being able to do the crazy sport and overcome the hardships that come with it.

This realization is where I label my second peak. Being able to accept the fact that falling behind my teammates wasn’t a reflection of my ability—  I believe it shows more strength than anything. I finally found myself happy and satisfied.

With this healthier and stronger mindset, I’ve faced nothing but improvement from this point forward. I also know there will always be even more room for improvement; I’m looking forward to another peak. My biggest goal as of now is to continue learning from the mental and physical challenges that come with gymnastics for as long as I can.

I feel as though I was made to do gymnastics, not because I’m perfect at it— no, not at all— but because I genuinely enjoy it. I’m not doing this sport for anyone else— not my parents nor my coaches— rather, I’m doing it for myself. I want to make my parents and coaches proud of me, but that isn’t my biggest concern; I want to be proud of myself more than anything.

Gymnastics has definitely been a life-changing experience; I can’t imagine how different of a person I would be without it. Throughout these past few years, I’ve learned valuable life lessons I couldn’t have learned anywhere else in regards to perseverance, respect, confidence, time management, and much more. This sport has allowed me to find myself in unique ways. The only thing I regret is not starting sooner.

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