I tried out for the cheerleading squad when I was in the fifth grade.
By that time in my life, my oldest sister was away at college. The middle sister was taking the school bus to the junior high school in the next community. Both Mom and Dad left early every morning to get to their jobs. I was pretty much left with getting myself to and from the elementary school I attended. It was about a one mile walk through the neighborhood from our house to the school.
(Really, this is NOT my I-had-to-walk-5-miles-in-the-snow-uphill-both-ways-to-get-to-school story. It was a different time then. There are different threats these days. Taking it slowly on long walks to and from school was one thing us latchkey kids did to pass the time so we wouldn’t be at home alone so much.)
I remember watching the bedroom clock every morning waiting for exactly the right minute before setting out on my hike to school. I had the walking distance perfectly timed so I wouldn’t get there too early. The mornings weren’t so bad because of the anticipation of the walk and of the school day. It was the afternoons when I got home that were hard. Boring. Lonely. A little scary sometimes.
I think that’s why I tried out for cheerleading even though I wasn’t the cheerleader type. I needed some afternoon entertainment; something to fill up the empty hours. (We didn’t have all the homework kids have now).
I didn’t make the squad first time I tried out, but I did the second time. That was about the time things started changing in the cheerleading world. Things were moving from saddle oxfords, Keds, and sweaters to jumpsuits, mini shorts, and boots. Our squad was the first to wear the blue mini shorts jumpsuits that zipped up the front and black knee high boots. I was 10. (There are no pictures, thank goodness).
I told my parents about staying after school for the practices the week or so before the try-outs, but I don’t think they took me seriously. Like I said, I just wasn’t the cheerleader type. The day the actual try-outs came and my name was called, I was so excited that I think I ran that entire mile home because I couldn’t wait to call my mom at work and tell her. She didn’t believe me. I can still hear the skepticism in her voice as she asked, “Are you SURE?”
That cheerleading squad turned out to be a little pathetic. We weren’t very good. At all. And the newness of the knee high boots and mini shorts style was not as widely accepted as appropriate as the trend-setting sponsors had hoped. It was a second rate kind of group. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every single minute of every single practice and every single game. But we were pitiful. I just didn’t know it at the time.
I thought I was a good cheerleader. What I didn’t admit was that there were so many others that were better than me. Since I wasn’t really the cheerleader type, I realize now that maybe part of the reason we weren’t very S-U-C-C-E-S-S-ful (do they still do that cheer?) was partly because of me.
That scenario follows me.
After college, I worked as a flight attendant. It was exciting and fun and I put my heart and soul into it. I thought I was a pretty good flight attendant. People who knew me back when I got hired for that job most likely thought to themselves, “She’s just not the flight attendant type, is she?”. The airline I worked for was one that none of my friends had ever heard of. One reason I no longer am a flight attendant is because that airline is no longer in business. Again, maybe since I wasn’t really the flight attendant type in the first place, perhaps I’m a tiny bit responsible for their downfall.
Fast forward a few years. I got a job in advertising for a department store. The store isn’t on the level of Macy’s or Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue. It’s a department store that a lot of people wrinkle their noses at. My job was copywriting and graphic design. I learned a lot at that job as I put my heart and soul into it. Still, I wasn’t quite the best at it because though the stores are still around, all the advertising has moved to the corporate conglomerate instead of continuing to do it regionally. Maybe my contributions were partly the reason for that transition.
I have gotten sucked into a lot of things that were exciting and fun and even a little educational. For whatever reason, I have thrown myself into them and tried very hard to make it work for me. I try so hard. I try to do everything right. I try follow are the rules correctly. I try to meet all the expectations and exceed. I bet I get on other people’s nerves trying to be the little miss perfect.
Those things that have drawn me in never seem to last very long.
That often leads to the conclusion that there’s not much I am good at (maybe not rightly so, but still, my mind goes there for a bit…).
This is often, thankfully, followed by another opportunity to do something else.
Which is followed by my cry to God, “But I’m just not good at that.”
To which He responds, “Well, I’m glad we finally agree on something. Now let it go and let Me handle it for you and show you just how good it CAN be! Go ahead, let go. Try it. It will be exciting. And you might learn something.”
"If you want to give it all you've got," Jesus replied, "go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me." That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crest-fallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn't bear to let go. As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, "Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God's kingdom? Let me tell you, it's easier to gallop a camel through a needle's eye than for the rich to enter God's kingdom." Matthew 19:21-23