A long, long time ago, I was a cheerleader. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that long ago–haha. But, it certainly feels like it was forever ago. Anyways, I am currently an ex-cheerleader. I’ve pretty much spent my entire adolescent life cheering—Pop Warner cheer, high school cheer, and competitive cheerleading. I basically lived and breathed everything cheer, to the point that I even signed up for gymnastics and other extra-curricular activities at a very young age, so that I could perfect my tumbling and flexibility. Cheering was a lifestyle that I completely embraced. I loved it all: from spending time with my fellow teammates under those Friday Night Lights, to getting ready and done-up for competitions, games, and other school events. I even enjoyed competing and practicing! Okay, maybe not the conditioning aspect, but I truly did love being a cheerleader. I am so grateful for the experience. Sure, there are a lot of things I don’t miss about it, like wearing uniforms that didn’t fit (because they never actually fit), feeding an insane amount of hairspray to my head, and not to mention having a serious interference with my social life! BUT, I miss being on a team. I miss being forced to partake in physical activity. I miss doing something I sincerely enjoyed, and all the excitement that went with it.

If you were also once a cheerleader, I am sure that you can also agree with how difficult it was to leave the sidelines (your station for the last 4 years) once and for all. I must say, senior year can be somewhat overwhelming: the pressure of what colleges you’re considering attending, what your future career path will be, the reality that some of your closest friends are moving away along with the fact that you won’t see them every day anymore. It can be a difficult time, but on the bright side, things DO get better–after all, once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader! There is also the fact that your cheerleading career doesn’t have to end. If you’re going to college, whether it’s a four-year university or a community college, most of them offer a cheer program of some sort. You could also look into joining a rec team, consider coaching, or even going pro! With the right attitude, you can achieve anything! Eventually, though, you do learn, or at least accept, that all good things do come to an end. And, as cheesy as it sounds, when one door closes, another one opens.

I have to admit, I still catch myself reminiscing about the good old days. I’ll question myself, and wonder if it’s still okay to wear Soffe® shorts, but then find myself wearing them in the same way I wear sweatpants and Uggs® now (a.k.a. to bed, and when I’m bummin’ around) because I just can’t quit them. I’ll even find it necessary to let anyone and everyone know when I hear a song that used to be part of my favorite cheer routine. The funny thing is that no one ever cares, but if they forgot I was once a cheerleader, they will definitely remember now… LOL. I’ll also never forget the hours I spent with my team trying to perfect our stunts for competition. Or, even the time my team and I finally hit our ‘wolf-wall pyramid stunt’; that was a monumental day for all of us, and it brought us all so much closer together. Nowadays, if, for some reason, the argument of cheerleading being a sport comes up in conversation with my friends–which, for some reason, it does–I feel completely obligated to defend my former love… even though it’s kind of a huge process, because in order to do so, I have to explain to people that I used to be a cheerleader so that they can stop bashing it, and then it’s all awkward because they were just bashing it. Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I could just wear a sign that says, “I used to be a cheerleader”! No? Just me? Bad idea? Fine. As you can see, being a cheerleader has brought along some memorable stories. Even though it may be difficult to come to terms with the fact that you’re officially leaving the sidelines, you can take comfort in the nostalgia that you WILL feel towards cheering, and how you can truly say, that these were some of the best days of your life.

Do you miss your cheer days? How did you say goodbye to the sidelines? Tell us your story in the comments, and hang in there!