When I was one and a half my parents signed me up for a parents n tots gymnastics class, as parents of one and half year olds do. At the time it was probably more about socializing me and trying out a variety of activities and hoping I’d be a well rounded adult with many interests one day than necessarily finding a sport I’d grow to love.
I didn’t even realize how much I really did grow to need it until I reflected back, years after I’d quit. Obviously I loved it the whole way through, but it had a deeper impact on me than even I knew at the time. When I quit at age 18 due to a broken ankle I didn’t think much of it…I’d miss it a hell of a lot but that was the extent of my thoughts on it.
Now when I look back, I realize it was way more than 4 hours a week at the gym. More importantly, it was a sense of security, consistency, escape, strength, empowerment, challenge and accomplishment; it was my own thing, separate from school, friends and family. It was another world I was a part of, complete with its own lingo, routines, goals… I even had a completely different, and much loved set of friends there. For a couple of summers, I spent everyday of every week in gymnastics summer camp with some of my best friends, and when we turned 14, we CITed and eventually became coaches in that separate little world of mine. Growing up in the gym, I took for granted how positively intertwined my life became with it.
Now when I look back, I realize that quitting gymnastics wasn’t just quitting gymnastics, it was leaving behind that sense of security, consistency, escape, strength, empowerment, challenge and accomplishment, let alone all of the amazing girls I’d grown up with- from little kids to big kids, from big kids to teenagers, from teenagers to young adults.
Now when I look back, I realize that losing these things in my life was the beginning of a bit of a downward spiral for me. I’m not blaming the downward spiral on having quit gymnastics. But gymnastics coincidentally represents many of the aspects I was missing in order to be happy: My relationship with my parents was deteriorating. I moved to a brand new house, school and city where I knew almost no one. I was studying in a really tough program that I almost instantly knew I didn’t like. I didn’t vibe with many people in that program. My sister and I weren’t getting along for a while. The relationships I was in at the time were not fulfilling. I was so lonely. I wasn’t passionate about anything anymore. I was pretty depressed and for a long time I didn’t even know it.
I guess they don’t say Hindsight is 20/20! for nothing.
Now when I look back, I realize I’ve really started to turn it around. I went to teachers college. I have the most legit group of friends. I got a job as a teacher (twice!!) I stopped taking the birth control that (I have a hunch) had a huge effect on my happiness (or lack thereof). I moved across the freaking country to live in a place that makes me happy. I see my sister every single week, sometimes, multiple times. And to top it all off: we went to our first adult gymnastics class last week!
We couldn’t stop smiling.