Everyone Matters

Everyone Matters

At some point every person feels unappreciated or helpless or defeated but just because you're down doesn't mean you're alone.

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Earlier today on my campus a preacher came with a sign that called out people for being "sinners" and all I could think was that no one is a sinner. Especially if they are still young and still kids learning how to live on their own. I was told when I was young that no one was above another person. No one was ever done learning thing. There was always another person who was smarter, more athletic, more beautiful, more talented, but even knowing that I should still get up every day and be myself. I was encouraged to go to school and learn all that I could. That's when I made my friends.

Most of my friends are awkward and shy and introverted but I never saw them that way. I saw them as lonely, sitting alone at the lunch table looking down and scared because they were terrified of all the kids in class. I wanted to be their friend and help them be less afraid. They were free to be whoever they wanted to be because they had me as a friend and they knew they could trust me to have their backs no matter what. My best friend stayed pretty shy up until high school where she really bloomed and started dating people. I've never seen her happier than the day she finally admitted she was dating her significant other and I sat down and talked to her about even though she had been distant for several months.

She told me she was scared I'd stop being her friend because of who she was dating and I looked her in the eye and said: "It doesn't matter who you choose to date as long as you are happy and I will support you no matter what because you are my best friend." That fact has never changed with me from when I was 7 years old making real friends for the first time or when I'm 19 making a new set of friends at college. My best friends can be gay, lesbian, straight, pansexual, bisexual, or completely against relationships and I will still see them as people because they are being themselves and I am friends with them for them. The way they live their lives is up to them and they deserve to be happy just like me and no one should ever be unhappy because they can't be themselves.

I live my life constantly outraged that people can be so cruel as to tell a child their feelings are invalid because they have feelings for the wrong kind of people according to the judgments passed by a random individual. The man that came to my campus claiming to be a preacher with a sign that had a list of people who in America have rights just the same as everyone else but was telling us, college students who are still learning and trying to better our lives, that we are sinners and we will go to hell and be judged for mistakes we might not even see as mistakes.

Am I wrong to respect my homosexual friends because they are the most honest and real people in my life?

Am I wrong for understanding that life can be hard for some people and life gets too real to fast and they might need a few drinks to cope every now and then?

Am I wrong for thinking that if someone wants to be sexually active at late high school, early college ages that are perfectly fine because being sexually active is something everyone can experience and it can a great stress reliever?

I have no care in the world what your religion is, I am a Jewish girl who struggles to believe in G-d who has friends that are all kinds of denominations of Christian or Muslim or Agnostic or Atheist. I have no care in the world whether you are Bisexual, Pan-sexual, straight, gay/ lesbian.

You are all people!

There is nothing wrong with being yourself. In fact, there is nothing stronger a person can do but admit that they are different in a world full of so much hate. The sad part is that I can't relate to my friends' struggles. I am straight, in a happy strong relationship, and I get along alright with my family. I don't have to keep secrets for fear of being rejected or lie about why a person is sleeping over at my house. I don't have to be judged so harshly by a world that is blind to individuality. Despite my best efforts, my friends still suffer and I wish I could do anything to help them be happier but every time I see them smile or see them holding hands with the person they love I just feel my heart swell with happiness.

They are my friends and they are no different from me. There shouldn't be a divide in peoples minds saying that if a person is different than they are wrong. It is not a sin to be in love. It is not a sin to be happy. It is not a sin to be yourself. And if you think anything in this article applies to you please understand that there is nothing wrong with you, there is so much wrong with this world. Please remember there are people out there who understand your struggles and you are not alone. I hope you all have a friend that is in some way like me who just sees the person. A friend that sees a lonely person who needs a friend. A friend that doesn't see you like your beliefs but sees you as a real person who can make their life so much happier as my friends have.

Don't give up your fight and give in to their hate. Stay true to yourself and enjoy your life because you are so much better than anyone could imagine.

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Why An Athlete Is Not Defined By Their Level

Pressure can drive athletes crazy.
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With tryout season among us, it is so important that this be addressed before the teams for this upcoming year are formed. So many athletes that tryout, don't make the team they want and either quit to "take a year off" or jump ship to a gym that promises them to place the athlete on a higher level. I know that every athlete wants to be on level 5 team, the division is the most prestigious of all of them, especially because going to worlds is the end game for most athletes. The problem these days in the cheerleading world, is that our athletes are trying to level up at a rate that is just not quite realistic. If an athlete is on a level 1 team the chances of her being on level 4 next year is slim. It is necessary for athletes to experience each level for at least a year to learn all of the fundamentals of the level and build on them for their foundation as an athlete to be more concrete. This produces the best athlete possible.

A lot of athletes think that all that they need to jump levels is tumbling and that is just not the case. When teams are formed, coaches take a look at many different things, these qualities include but are not limited to: mental toughness, dedication, tumbling, stunting abilities, pace of learning, dance and attitude. Contrary to popular belief, there are so many factors that go into forming a team. This team not only has to be suitable for individual athletes but putting a team together is like a puzzle and as coaches we have to put a team together that will work well and have all the necessary percentages of skills to be competitive in their division.

We are concerned about building well-rounded athletes, not an athlete that is only capable in one facet of cheerleading. Some athletes are great level 4 tumblers, but have level 2 stunt ability and those two will not equal a level 4 athlete until we boost the stunting ability of said athlete. Putting an athlete on a team to just tumble is doing a disservice to not just the team, but also the athletes themselves. If this athlete joins a level 4 team to just tumble all year, when their tumbling progresses to that of a level 5 athlete, they will still have level 2 stunting skills and won't be put to good use when they are level 5 eligible. A well-rounded athlete is the kind of athlete that wins worlds.

SEE ALSO: To The Coach That Took My Confidence Away

When athletes take their time and learn their level, they are not just learning completely new skills each year, but building on them. If done correctly, each year an athlete should improve on all points of cheerleading and not just one. The rules in each level lead to progressions for the level that it directly follows, so that athletes can safely learn skills by going up the ladder one step at a time. What most don't realize is that skipping steps is such an unnecessary practice. If Susie stays on level 2 for an extra year, she is not "learning nothing", she is improving on the skills that she didn't quite execute completely the year before, this will perfect her performance in this level and give a more solid foundation for her to build on when she is on a level 3 team.

Pressure can drive athletes crazy. Parents, your athletes have so many years ahead of them to be on a level 5 team and go to worlds, so pushing for a 10 year old, that is just not ready, to be on a level 4 team is unreasonable. Let your 10-year-old learn maturity and mental toughness at a level that is more appropriate, when your athlete is pushing herself too hard it takes the fun out of the tryout process and creates unnecessary stress on the athletes. Lastly, please be sure to support whatever decision your coaches make for your athlete's placement, they know your child and they are not trying to hurt their pride, but build them up so they can accomplish all of their goals as an athlete. Know that the level your kid makes this year doesn't define him or her as an athlete, but helps them grow into the cheerleader they have the ability to become!

Cover Image Credit: National Cheerleaders Association

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Poetry On Odyssey: Gardner

'I could smell her all over you / and once I even saw the juices / dripping from your lips"

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I knew it all along,

that the flowers in her garden

were laced with the sweetest nectar,

that flow from her hands to her hips.


The same scent that used to cling to you,

I could smell her all over you,

and once I even saw the juices

dripping from your lips.


But that garden has long since been set ablaze

Because things always get in the way.

And I guess that now you long to venture back,

to see if another seed has taken root.


And it's alright, I suppose,

My garden is far less vibrant.

It's been weeded too often, clipped too far

But hers is still so young, so fresh and full of life.


So you still water my plants,

and pretend to be in her field of flowers.

And you wonder to yourself,

because you don't know if you ever truly liked the taste

of bitter deceit swimming through your veins.

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