so i have a lot of friends interested in color guard...
the thing is, they all don’t want to try out in fear of not making it. they’ve seen me while i practice, and it intimidates then into thinking they can never ever do that. it’s quite ridiculous, but i know that’s probably how it is for some of my dudes out there. so i’m just gonna tell you now that you’re not going to be that good as son as you try out. you’re not, it’s true. but you will get better over time, that for sure. when i first tried out, i sucked. i couldn’t match my feet to my hands for anything.
but i kept going, practicing, learning, listening to upperclassmen and our instructor. i’m telling you now, you won’t have everything perfect. really, you probably won’t have your right toss by the end of clinics week— tryouts week, if that’s what you want to call it. i know i didnt, along with most of the rookies there. quite honestly, you won’t have anything perfected or clean by the time you do try out. and that’s so okay, it’s only natural. you’re not going to get good at what you’ve learned in just one week. that’s why you practice, practice, practice. you will get there, i promise. and i’m telling you now, by the time band camp rolls by, you’ll be better. you won’t be 100% cleaned and perfect, but you’ll be so much better.
it doesn’t matter who you are, you can make it and do it if you apply yourself. don’t run away because it looks intimidating, don’t give up because you aren’t as good as the vets on that first week. don’t put yourself down because you can’t get something, for matching feet and hands together, for not being able to get all of the across-the-floors exactly right, for not being perfect at everything. you’ll get there, guard is an experience you don’t want to miss out on. it will give you self-confidence, it’ll make you queens and kings. it’s been the best experience of my life, and i wouldn’t take it back for the world. if you continue to say you can’t or won’t get something, you won’t. tell yourself you can, you will do it. fake it til you make if, my dude. you can do it, and i believe in you.
I am not looking for sympathy or for people to feel sorry for me. I am trying to hopefully inspire people. If I have to live with this condition, I might as well do something beneficial with it and try to encourage and inspire others. Even if helps or inspires just one person, I will feel accomplished.
I have a condition called Cerebral Palsy; I’ve had it since I was born and I will always have it. It is not a disease and you cannot catch it. CP causes my muscles to be severely tight and that causes me to walk differently than your average person. My parents were told by doctors that I may never walk and that my life would be far from normal.
Often times when people face challenges and obstacles in their life they act as if those challenges are a roadblock that cannot be gone around. I could have let my disability act as a roadblock in my life. Instead I took a detour and accomplished more than anyone ever imagined I would. I decided that my quality of life would not be decreased because of the way my body works. I turned my can’ts into cans and my dreams into plans and decided to live my life without physical limits and boundaries.
Growing up I always had big dreams of becoming a cheerleader. I would parade around town in a cheer outfit and yellow pom poms reciting dances and cheers I had made up. When I finally got to middle school I decided to fulfill the dreams of my three year old self and try out for cheer. I decided to try out without letting my condition stop me. I attended try out rehearsals and spent hours every night perfecting my skills. I could not do any stunts or flips, but I had spirit and I wanted this more than anything. After a week of clinics and tryouts, I did not make the team. However, I did not let my disability stop me from trying to go after what I wanted.
My parents and I never believed that I would be able to drive a car normally. I try to never let my disability get in my way of doing things so I was dreading driving since I was almost sure that I’d need hand controls to operate the vehicle. After most of my friends had gotten their licenses I began to get frustrated with my legs and the fact that I’d probably never drive as easily as my friends would. Instead of letting my legs hold me back, I went for the ultimate ride. I proved everyone, including myself, wrong when I discovered I could easily drive with my legs as everyone else does. Now, I am just weeks away from a real driver’s license. This was something I never thought I could do, but I did not let anything hold me back.
Another thing that I always wanted to do was have a job. I love fashion and always aspired to work at Nordstrom. I had never ever witnessed anyone physically challenged working at Nordstrom, so I was unsure how things would go. Nonetheless, I gave it my best and landed myself a job. I was on my feet for five hours three days a week. I was not allowed to sit because they did not want customers to see me sitting on my walker. Standing this long was so physically hard on my legs. I would cry after every shift because of the pain I was in. There were so many times that I was so incredibly close to just quitting. However, I had wanted this job so badly that I could not bring myself to walk away. I would not give up. I stuck with the job the entire summer and came out a stronger person and I feel very accomplished. I had never thought that I could stand on my feet for five hours so I was amazed when I did it.
Most people my age can easily attend concerts without a care in the world. Everyone can stand for hours in a large pit of people and sing the night away. Every concert I attended was spent off in some secluded handicap accessible balcony where I could not even see the stage. After purchasing tickets to see Lana Del Rey in concert, I knew the balcony was not an option. I love Lana and her music so much that I knew I had to be as close to the stage as I possibly could. However, the concert was General Admission, meaning I’d be in a sea of rowdy fans all shoving to get close to their idol. I was bound and determined to see her up close, so I chose to just be on the floor with everyone else. Everyone I knew said I was making a bad choice by standing on the floor because I wouldn’t be able to do it. Little did they know, I had the best night of my life. This was probably the only night of my life where I completely forgot I even had a disability. I was able to experience the concert from the very front in a massive crowd of over 4,000 people. I swayed along to the music and sang my heart out. By the end of the night my walker even crowd surfed. For one night I experienced a concert as your average teen and I am so glad that I did not let my “roadblock” stop me.
In my eighteen years I have done many things that I thought I never would do. I could mope around and let my condition get the best of me, but I now live my life the way I want to live it. I do not let my legs or my walker hold me back from accomplishing my goals. If I could do all of these things despite having Cerebral Palsy, you can accomplish anything in the world. Next time you come across a roadblock that you think you cannot get around, I promise you there is a way around it. So turn those can’ts into cans and get out there and start living. You only have one life to live so don’t let anything stop you. Believe in yourself and you can achieve it all.