My little sister is fantastic. She’s sixteen, she’s a great student, she has lots of friends, she behaves herself, and she’s a cheerleader. She seems to pretty much have it figured out.
I, on the other hand. Let me cast my mind back to when I was sixteen. I had eight friends, total. I was a chubby, down-and-out theatre nerd (meaning I was TRYING to be a theatre nerd but I never got cast in anything). I loved English class and chorus and I hated pep rallies. I didn’t play sports or exercise, ever. I didn’t have to take gym class because I went to a theatre magnet school one town over for half the day and that meant I was exempt. And I never got invited to parties and my friends and I passed many a Friday night making cakes and playing board games.
That being said, on Saturday I went to watch my little sister cheer. Initially I was a mess. We walked out to the bleachers at this football field and I was overcome with a flood of emotions. I was right back there, at a high school football game feeling incredibly out of place. I tried to tell myself that I am a grown up. These kids can’t judge me and who cares if they do?! Who cares. Come on. So we sit down (mind you I’m with my brother and my HUSBAND who I’m MARRIED TO what was my PROBLEM?!) and I take out my Favorite Sandwich of All Time, the Godfather from A&S Fine Foods in my hometown, which I had purchased that day for the first time in years. I ate a quarter of the sandwich, put it on the bleacher in front of me to get something out of my bag and it promptly blew off the bleacher into the dirt.
WHY DOES EVERYBODY HATE ME SO MUCH?
Illogical, yes. But I gathered the sandwich, put it in the garbage, and walked calmly away from my brother and husband. I walked around an adjacent field trying to collect myself. Nobody hates you. No mean kid knocked your sandwich over. Nobody is making fun of you. It was the wind. You can’t be mad at the wind.
I calmed down and returned to the bleachers. I retreated into my poetry homework because that’s what I know how to do when faced with sports and judgment, real or imagined.
And then my sister started cheering. You guys. I haven’t seen her do this since she was in 7th or 8th grade and can I just say? She has come so far! She smiled and yelled and her arms were straight and she hit every mark. She held a girl in the air and yelled at the same time! She did jumps and kicks and she looked over at us to make sure we were watching and it completely broke my heart in such a good way. It was the most lovely thing. She’s out there, not worrying, not afraid, living her life and doing what she enjoys and doing her best at it. It was phenomenal. And eventually my ice cold facade melted away, I put away my poetry homework, and I cheered too! I watched football and I had fun and I said “WOOOOOO!”