This I Believe

Tatiana - Syracuse, New York
Entered on September 7, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

You are only born once and you only have one life to live. To me life has always been about what you make of it. Living life to me is about going out on a limb and striving to do things that you really want to do. I’m not saying that everyone should go do everything they’ve ever dreamed about as a child, but I firmly believe that given the opportunities everyone should try to take full advantage of them, because you’ll never know until you try. To be completely honest I must admit that my personal philosophy has been adopted from one of the most influential people in my life, my mother.

Growing up as the only child in a single parent household, I was taught that anything in life is obtainable. At the time of my youth I just thought of her as being a nuisance and trying to nag me to believe the cliché. Usually the lecture was referring to eating my dinner that didn’t look appetizing, or trying a new ride at an amusement park, or even talking to the new kids in the neighborhood, but as I grew up the “lecture” on why I should eat new things changed into more complex and deeper issues.

Freshman year of high school came and so did tryouts for the varsity cheerleading team. Cheerleading had always been a huge part of my life since the age of ten and it was a goal of mine to be a part of an extra curricular activity that I truly enjoyed. So I went to the information session and sat in a room filled with 25 girls who were all vying for three spots on the team. While listening to what the captain and the coach were talking about I couldn’t help but notice that I was the only black girl in the room. It set in, the doubt and the hesitation, I began to second guess myself and convince myself that trying out for the team was not a good idea. I wasn’t going to try out and feel awkward about being the only black girl on the team. What would people say about me? Would they judge me based upon my athletic ability or on my skin color? Would my peers discriminate against me for trying to do something that had never been done before? The questions were endless and then worry set in. The funny thing was that I had all the credentials to make the team the tumbling skills, the proper height for my jumps, the right amount of strength, and the right attitude.

Even though I knew this I immediately went home and spoke to my mother. Again she gave me words of wisdom about the situation and encouraged me to tryout anyway. She made me realize that if I didn’t try out I would have to live with my decision and the regret of not even trying. I thought about the games I would have missed out on, the experiences, the people I would have gotten closer with, and just the healthy workout I would have missed out on. It was then when it “clicked”, you’ll never know until you try finally had some meaning to me.

The next week I was the only black girl to try out for the team. Two days later I received an envelope in the mail saying I had made one of the three spots on the team. Not only was I extremely excited about making the team as a freshman, but little did I know that the next year I would be captain. This experience meant more to me than just being on the high school team, I learned that fear should never take over and life is about taking chances and living with no regrets. From that day forward I no longer let myself think about how hard a dream of mine would be to accomplish, instead I strive to reach my goals because I will never know until I try.