This I Believe

Ryan - Pflugerville, Texas
Entered on May 2, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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No More Sobbing Phone Calls

About this time last year, my sister Taylor tried out for cheerleader and did not make it. She had been crushed, and I had received a sobbing phone call. When I asked if she knew why she hadn’t made it she had answered, “Because I can’t tumble.”

Taylor was determined to tryout again next year, so my parents enrolled her at the same gym where I had learned to cheer. She struggled at first, but soon enough Taylor could handspring, tuck, and layout like a pro! She was ready to tryout again.

A few days ago, I received a call. I answered the phone thinking that I was going to hear shrieks of excitement, but once again I heard sobs. “What’s wrong” I asked. She was bawling too much to answer, so I asked again. After a few moments she collected herself enough to whisper “they were so mean to me.”

Taylor had gone to tryouts and while she was warming up, she had been told by two of the cheerleaders that she was not pretty enough to be on their squad. “It was all I could do not to cry” she said. “I wanted to leave, but as I stood up, the coach came in and called everyone to the middle of the gym. I couldn’t concentrate on anything! I forgot the cheers, I didn’t smile, and when it was my turn to tumble I landed on my knees after a back tuck. Everyone was laughing at me.” she sobbed.

As she spoke, my heart, heavy with regret and embarrassment, sank to the floor. I was one of those girls. I was that rude cheerleader. During cheer tryouts, my friends and I would huddle together and watch as girls warmed up. We never said anything to their faces, but we would purposefully speak loud enough for them to hear us saying awful things about them.

As I was telling my little sister that those girls were jerks and had no idea what they were talking about, I was thinking about my own actions. How many sobbing phone calls had I caused? Even in college my student organization cuts girls based on appearance; we never say “you aren’t pretty enough,” but I’m sure that they hear the whispers and the snickers and are able to guess what we were are saying.

The worst part? Until that phone call I never felt bad about it.

I believe that Gandhi said it best when he said “be the change that you want to see in the world.” And from now on that is what I am going to do; I am going to make a conscious effort not to judge people based on their appearance. I know that I can never take back the things I said or did that hurt others, but I can and will do my best to make sure that I never cause a sobbing phone call again.