For three years straight, I tried out for cheerleader. And for three years straight, I didn’t make it.
What was I doing wrong? Well, I had no gymnastic ability. I didn’t have the right body type for cheerleading. And I just plain sucked at jumping around and looking excited. (True story.)
I remember being distraught the first year. What was my life going to be like if I wasn’t a seventh grade cheerleader?! I was destined to be a big failure! I went home from seeing that my name wasn’t on the list and called all four of my friends who had made the squad and congratulated them, sobbing each time I hung up.
I remember also being upset the next year. I had tried so much harder! I lobbied for votes from the student body. I worked on those jumps. I made sure my outfit was super cute. And what good did it do me? Not a bit. (I blame my mouth full of braces for that one, with blue rubber bands going every direction, impeding my ability to project my voice — or even open my mouth fully — and clashing with my peach Guess shirt and short shorts.)
I remember going out for the freshman squad at our high school, thinking that I had a real chance at last because my sister was the head cheerleader on the varsity squad. Surely, she could pull some strings, right? Surely, she could give me some intel of some sort, right? Unfortunately, the only favor that got me was an earlier rejection, as she came out to tell everyone the results of the voting and quickly began sobbing before she could even get a word out, prompting everyone to look at me, clear discernment in their eyes, and murmur, “Oh, Kerry’s sister didn’t make it. Again.”
And thus ended my cheerleading career. Before it started.
It wasn’t as hard that year, though, because I had been to an awards ceremony not too much earlier than that for super smart, nerd junior high students who took the SAT for fun and ranked higher than the average high school senior. (Oh, yeah. I had no standing with the cheerleaders. But I was the queen of the nerds, y’all! Hail thee, Nerd Queen!) The speaker for this ceremony was a very depressing chap who got up and said basically this…
You can’t be anything you want to be. Not all of you can be a world famous violinist because not all of you are talented enough for that. And not all of you can be president of the United States because only a handful people in every generation can achieve that.
In other words, deal with it, nerds.
But, wow. This stuck with me. I can’t be the best at everything. But I can be the best me at some things.
I figured it out in high school. I could rock it out nerd-style in the marching band, where I could march to the beat while also playing an instrument. (This was, sadly, something that separated you from the rest of the pack back in those days for the Golden Warrior Band.) I could take direction well enough that it masked my poor acting skills in One Act Play. (And I could lip sync and work my jazz hands well enough to get through that one musical we attempted.) I could take a vapid UIL writing prompt and churn out, in an hour, an impassioned essay on whatever the hot topic of the day was, making sure to include lots of bogus quotes from very important people I made up on the spot. (The judges didn’t fact check. They just thought that hillbilly girl from Alvarado knew everything. Hail thee, Nerd Queen!)
And then, I met Jesus. And being His was enough. And it made it even more amazing to be the best me I could be, knowing that life wasn’t a success based on my merits but that His glory was gained from the gifts He put in my life. What freedom, in saying that I didn’t have to be perfect, in seeing what I could do as all for Him and nothing more, and in just enjoying life.
Wow. I’ve gotten away from that, you know?
It’s a vast, limitless world we find ourselves in. And I find as I navigate through these days, particularly in this stage of life, that there are so many comparisons waiting to be made. There are women my age who are reaching the peak of their careers. Women my age who can run a three hour marathon. Women who make gourmet meals for their families. Women who can sew a dress that you can actually wear in public. Women who are so outgoing that their social calendars are always booked. Women who always have something creative and educational for their children to do. Women who are rocking it out in every area of their lives.
I feel like I’m trying out for cheerleader some days. The meatloaf I attempted was burned on the outside and raw on the inside. (I sitll don’t know how I did that.) I didn’t get an invite to that get together with friends from church. (Because I’m a hopeless introvert. Which means that I’m secretly RELIEVED that I didn’t get an invite. Life is cray-cray when you’re an introvert, y’all.) I can’t sew a button on that shirt of Wes’s without using half a spool of thread. (It still looks bad, even then!) And forget creative projects for the kids – it’s enough of an accomplishment if I can help them with their math homework. (I’m so lost, so often.)
It’s so easy to think about what everyone else does so well that I forget that life isn’t a success based on what I can do. That I’m not made to be the best at everything. That I’m not a failure because there are just some things that I fail at doing.
I’m reminded that it’s enough to just be who I am, to do what I can do, and to trust that Christ will get His glory from what He’s put in me.
Be encouraged, friends. It’s enough to be you, even in a world of comparisons and self-expectations that are out there. YOU are enough!