In eighth grade, I tried out for the volleyball team and I didn’t make it. A couple of weeks later, the color guard team had come down to the middle school to perform a routine and recruit people to go through their clinic and tryout for the upcoming marching season. At first, I wasn’t interested in trying out, although the routine was cool and so were the girls. But a couple of friends that were already in band told me that I should try out. I had my doubts and worries going in, but once I started to get the hang of it and made the team, I couldn’t stop my excitement.
I stayed on colorguard all four years of high school. During those four years, I not only gained amazing friends, but I also gained lessons that will stick with me through the rest of my life.
Like me, you’ll probably read this and start recalling your memories from your time in colorguard and end up with a smile on your face. You’ll look back on all the times you wanted to quit because of the emotional, physical, and mental turmoil it caused at times. But then you’ll remember that without all that and without all the powerful lessons that you received, you wouldn’t be the person that you are today.
1. Failure is unavoidable.
In order to succeed, this is one lesson that needs to be learned and accepted from the start. You might not get that butterfly, around the world, blue devil toss sequence down as soon as you learn it, but don’t give up. You might not catch that J-toss with a one turn the first time you attempt it, but practice makes perfect. Yes, accepting failure is hard, but that’s what makes you so much stronger in the end.
2. Laughter is the best photograph.
Sure, you have tons of pictures of you in the stands with your friends, but the memories you recall that make you shake with laughter are so much better than pictures. You can hear your laughs bouncing off every surface of the bus and the laughs echoing in the restaurants before a game. Value, cherish, and appreciate those that happened in guard and do the same to those that yet to happen in life.
3. Discipline is key.
You have managed to stay with your toss, even while in motion. You have managed to be calm, cool, and collected while waiting on awards to be called. You have even managed to stay at attention in basic block with that pesky bead of sweat making its way towards your eye. Now, I know for a fact, you can endure any stress that comes your way. Believe me.
4. Mistakes are easy to be fixed.
Whether it was a broken limb (Sorry, Alicia!), a bad run (There were plenty of those!), or a ruined relationship (What else do you expect?), you moved on and found a way to fix it. You endured each awkward encounter. You may have forgotten a piece of uniform (oops!) or made your friend really mad, but everything turned out okay, didn’t it? And what did all that teach you? That you can make mistakes and be forgiven, as long as you ask for it.
5. You are so much stronger than you think!
I’m pretty sure you’ve spun in different weather conditions. Living in Alabama, that’s a given. Humid sun, frigid rain, and gusty winds. You know, the works. You’ve had to suffer through early morning rehearsals and late night practices. You’ve probably even had to go through a run with an injury, unbeknownst to anyone else. You’ve even survived the run-throughs that pushed you past your breaking point. The moral of this is, you survived all of it and got stronger because of it. You’ll go through difficult situations all throughout life and I assure you that you’ll survive those too.
6. Practice makes almost perfect with “one more ‘gain.”
As band and guard kids, you’ll know that “one more ‘gain” will never mean just that. It often turns into 15 more of those. By that time, you’ve almost perfected whatever it was that you were messing up on. Since this has become a habit in the four years that you’ve done it, you can’t do anything just once and be satisfied with it.
7. Instructors actually do know what they’re talking about.
You’ve rolled your eyes plenty of times at their different techniques, like making you do 100 drop spins in each hand. Or doing jazz leaps across the field. From one end zone to the other and back again. Yet, all these techniques seemed to work out. They made us better people and better performers. They taught us to appreciate the people that chose to give us their free time. So, for that, I thank them.
8. Friends are forever.
Through the wins and losses, friends had your back. Through the tears, the bruises, the ups and the downs, they were there. For example, the first partner I had, became my best friend through those years. Your friends were there for you when you had a crush with that cute boy in the drumline or that cute boy that played bass guitar. They had a whole pack of bobby pins and hair ties when you managed to lose all of yours. They are there now, too. No matter how far apart you may grow, those friends will always be there for you when you call. They’ll be ready to reminisce on “old times” and talk about life. No matter what, through it all, they are there.
9. Be proud of yourself!
Being in colorguard taught you how to be a part of something so much bigger than yourself. When I would perform on the field or practice in my yard, I had a sense of joy because I knew that I was doing something and other people were enjoying it. People were seeing that we’ve worked so hard to perfect every single aspect and they loved it. And even if they didn’t love it, knowing that I did the best that I could do was satisfying just the same. That will always be a lesson. Even if someone doesn’t love your work, be proud that you did it to the best of your ability.