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OK, so cheerleading may not be a real degree, but I think I learned more about myself from joining the team than all my college classes combined. College is one of the first times you leave the nest, your circle of friends, and the fluffy sidelines you've cheered on the four fan-tastic years of high school… it's a bit of a wake-up call and a massive learning experience.
Here's what I learned while earning my degree in cheerleading.
#1. There's no such thing as a good excuse.In high school, time management is a bit of a loose term, and your coaches expect you to be late every so often and to forget your cheer shoes at least once during the season… After all, there's probably a good excuse, right? WRONG. And your college coach will let you know it. One of the best things I was ever told in college is "there's no such thing as a good excuse. Just own up to your mistake and correct it." I've never been the same since. It makes so much sense! Excuses are really an easy way to let yourself off the hook, when you really need to take a look at what caused the issue in the first place. Admit the mistake and make the corrections to move forward excuse-free.
#2. Everyone is different, and therefore responds to situations differently.We all have different personalities and backgrounds, and when you join a group of people you don't know from different places, you learn pretty fast. Assuming that everyone is on the same page is a bad move. Some people like to have a lot of feedback and criticism, while others just need some encouragement to make it to the next level. I found that taking the time to observe and learn about your teammates' personalities and tendencies helped with communication like you wouldn't believe.
#3. Volunteering and stepping up is a habit you have to foster.It's not always comfortable to raise your hand and volunteer for the unknown, but when you're nervous to try something, you're most likely to grow because of it. A veteran on my team told me to volunteer for things I wasn't completely comfortable doing, and it would push my skills and boundaries. She was right, and now I've made that a life habit that has catapulted me into success along with some failures -- both of which I'm grateful for experiencing.
#4. You are in charge of your future.Some people sit back and wait for things to happen to or for them… then they question, why not me? Why am I not the one who moved to a new city and started a new job? Why didn't I think to create a new start-up business? Where's my new car, etc., etc....? Don't sit back and wait for your future; go out there and make it happen. You're in charge of your own destiny and can have what you want. You just have to work for it. Go make some goals, go take some action, and go get the things you want!
#5. You are never done learning.You don't know everything, and you won't grow if you don't know… Listen to others, ask for feedback, and try new things. You have to understand that you don't know it all. If you're going to continue growing as a person, athlete, student, or really in any field, you have to listen, take it all in, ask questions, and learn. Don't miss your opportunity to become something great because you thought you already had all the answers…
Well, that about sums it up. Like I said, cheerleading may not be a degree, but what you learn on your cheerleading journey is worth the work and time in spades. Congratulations, if you've graduated, and if you get to hold on to your poms a little bit longer, I hope you learn these things in your final chapters of cheer.
*Photo provided by Lucas Williams