If you've ever played a sport, you know that it takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to be your best, and if you don't really love it, you'll never reach your true potential. Even then, there are times we may feel like giving up because we feel like we'll never be good enough, we'll never get that move perfect, we'll never win. Nevertheless, WE PERSIST, and we're better people because of it. Here are some important lessons I've learned through twirling.

1. Resilience Is Key.

Whether it be doing a trick over and over again, or continuing to plug away at that math problem until you finally get it, resilience is essential to success. No matter how long it takes, you can do it! You will get frustrated, you will want to give up, you will feel there's no hope at times, but if you keep going and push passed that you'll be amazed at the things you can accomplish.

2. Success Is Internal.

There will be times when you go out and do your absolute best, but when the results come out they aren't what you feel you deserved. Your self-worth is not determined by a professor, a friend, a family member, or a judge behind a table. If you are happy with the job that you did, that's all that matters. Do what you love for you, not for the approval of someone else.

3. Don't Hold Back.

Sometimes we feel like we need to play it safe, but when you've worked your butt off for days, weeks, months, or years, don't let the fear of failure hold you back! Go out with confidence, and give it your all. Show them everything you've worked so hard on, lay it all on the line, and enjoy what your hard work has given you. Even if it doesn't go exactly how you wanted, at least you will know you didn't sell yourself short, and that is an accomplishment in itself (and it will be so much easier next time!)

4. Lift Others Up.

It's so easy to play into he game of competition, but in the end we're all working towards the same goal. We all want to be the best we can be. So, instead of avoiding those you see as your competitors for fear of showing them your weaknesses, lift them up, celebrate their accomplishments with them, connect with them! No one knows better what you've went through to get to the point you're at than those who are running the same race as you are. Although there will be a "winner" chosen in the end, the real prize is the friendships we have the ability to make, strengthened by a bond of doing something we have so much passion for.

5. You Are Your Own Worst Critic.

So you started off great but messed up a little some where in the middle. DON'T GIVE IN! Odds are whatever went wrong wasn't as big of a deal as you felt it was anyway. You and you alone have the opportunity to pick yourself up and finish strong or succumb to the negative feelings of disappointment and embarrassment. Don't let one bump in the rode ruin everything you've worked for. Keep on keeping on!

6. Find What Works For You And Own It.

It's so easy to see when everyone else can do something that you can't, but we all have things that we're uniquely good at. Identify those strengths, and use them to your advantage! Stop comparing yourself to others and do you because that's what you do best. Let your own style shine bright!

Whether it's a gymnastics routine, a basketball game, a business meeting, or a baton competition, these are key factors to help you live your best life. Baton twirling has taught me so much since I started at age 4, and I hope these lessons help you be the best you you can be. Now go on and own your 2018!