Being an ex-cheerleader is like being part of a secret society. We all worship the spirit stick, speak a strange language comprised of phrases like "first and ten, do it again!" and perform sacred rituals (a.k.a. cheers). You may not be on the sidelines anymore, but every now and then, your inner cheerleader makes an appearance. No matter what team you cheered for, there are certain quirks that all former cheerleaders have in common.
1. Certain songs bring back the strongest of memories.
You’re out at a bar and suddenly you hear the dance music from your 2008 routine and can’t help but drunkenly bust out the motions as everyone else looks on in confusion. To this day, hearing “We Are the Champions” by Queen triggers your PTSD from awards ceremonies.
We! Are sobbing! We, we are sobbing!!
2. Conditioning was the worst form of torture.
In cheerleading, "conditioning" is just a friendly term for slow death. It didn’t matter how in shape you were, because the team was only as strong as its weakest link. If coach made us do 20 push ups and little Jenny gave up on the 19th one, guess what: the WHOLE team would have to start all over again. (F*** you, Jenny).
3. Nothing embarrasses you anymore.
After shaking your butt in front of the whole school (and not even in a sexy way), falling on your face in front of the judges, and wearing warm up suits that made you look like a walking garbage bag, there isn’t much public embarrassment you can’t handle.
4. The Hollywood depiction of cheerleaders is SO not accurate.
We’ve all seen shows like "Friday Night Lights" and "Glee" where cheerleaders are the stereotypical “popular girls” and often get a bad rep of being ditzy, slutty, and just straight up bitches. But this portrayal couldn’t be farther from the truth! Probably the biggest misconception? NO, we don’t wear our uniforms to school every day. That’s a little excessive.
5. Numbers only go up to eight and then start over again.
Set one two, dip three four, up five six, hit seven eight, hold one two, hold three four, dip five six, twist seven eight, catch one two, out three four, clean five six, go seven eight…
(Bonus points if you envisioned a stunt sequence in your head while reading this.)
6. You get a sick pleasure out of your cuts and bruises.
Examining your battle scars after practice was always a fun time. You and your teammates would compare injuries and brag over whose bruise was the ugliest. Your teachers may have been a bit concerned and almost ready to call child protective services when you showed up to class with a black eye, to which you would respond, “Oh this? My flyer just kicked me in the face. Really, I’m fine.”
7. Trying to explain cheerleading to non-cheerleaders is kind of impossible.
As a cheerleader, you get a lot of silly questions thrown your way that you aren’t quite sure how to answer.
Are you the one who gets thrown in the air? Can you do a flip? So isn’t cheer like the same as gymnastics?
8. You secretly love getting dolled up.
Cheerleading is easily one of the most glamorous sports. Where else do you get to wear pretty uniforms and sparkly makeup while doing badass tricks? No matter how ridiculous you looked, you miss the teased ponytails, the bedazzled bows, even the face tattoos that were impossible to scrub off. Other athletes may be wondering: how do cheerleaders keep their hair looking perfect throughout a three hour football game? Magic, of course. And obscene amounts of hairspray.
9. You trust easily.
When three girls are responsible for throwing you into the air, it kind of forces you to trust them with your life. Stunting has taught you the true meaning of having someone's back. You know these girls will always be there to catch you when you fall, even if you elbow your back-spot in the face on the way down.
Your glory days of cheer may be far from over, but the nostalgia never fades. You know that despite all the crazy injuries, all the social events you had to miss, and the thousands of dollars in gym fees, you would do it all over again in a heartbeat.