A Path Worth Taking Libby dalpe

I can’t remember a time in my life where I haven’t been involved with an artistic sport, like gymnastics or dance. My life has always been full of rythms, beats, and striving for perfection. It has always been full of paying close attention to bent knees and flexed feet. There has never been a time where I haven’t been inspired and there’s never a time where I haven’t had a goal and stuck to it like glue until it has been reached. I hold onto those goals so tightly that when one started to slip away and got harder and harder to reach, all goals I had ever had also started to slip away.

It all started with my sister’s 6th birthday party. It was held at the Hockomock YMCA in the gymnastics gym. I was only 4 at the time, but after that party I never stopped attempting forward rolls or handstands on carpets. My mom signed me up for a session at the YMCA a year later. My sister begged my mom to start karate classes which were held across the hall from the gymnastics gym, so it was really a convenience thing. When Abby ended up losing interest in karate, I was forced to lose interest in gymnastics. It turns out, my neighbor that lived down the street from me, whom I became very close with, was starting to take ballet classes. Her mom recommended the place to my parents and a few weeks later, my sister and I were signed up. I participated in all sorts of performances and loved the feeling of being watched on stage by an audience. A girl in my class, who was an extraordinary dancer for our age, which was seven or eight at the time, was also a gymnast. Her mom started to teach basic tumbling or gymnastics classes at the end of each Thursday ballet class. I fell in love with Thursday classes and not because I was that interested in dance, I fell in love with tumbling.

I ended up losing total interest in dance and eventually quit which, unfortunitely, meant stopping Thursday tumbling classes. That whole summer I begged and pleaded my mom to enroll me in a real gymnastics class. Gems Gymnastics was located in Cumberland, about five minutes away from where I lived. I started recreational classes there in August of that year. I was only in these classes for a couple weeks before they consulted my mom and told her that I had potential to compete with their team. I was beyond excited. I knew most of the girls on team from school and other sports, so making friends was not hard, but getting up to their ability and strength was. Usually, gymnasts start their careers at a young age whereas I was starting mine in fourth grade. I worked my butt off to keep up, but I couldn’t compete with their ability. I thought I wasn’t “good” enough and that got me extremely frustrated with myself. As my motivation started to fall, my world around me did also. The gym owner was not paying rent and stealing expensive tuition money for herself, so Gems ended up shutting down and closing.

I didn’t know what to do with my life. I was in the gym 16 hours a week and worked so hard for everything to come crashing down. “This is what you wanted,” I thought to myself. “You wanted an out, so here it is.” Thoughts like this crowded my mind for two months until Tayla and I talked ourselves into joining dance. My mom, however, was only allowing me to choose one. I had to choose between staying with gymnastics or starting dance back up. Because I ended gymnastics with a terrible mindset, I ended up giving it up. I sacrificed what I loved most to try other things. I was so excited to get back up on stage and go back to what I started with, trying to forget about gymnastics completely. In the first few classes, I was already dreading it. We performed at the end of the season and although it was still amazing to be on stage, there wasn’t the competitiveness that gymnastics had. I went back to doing the sport I loved by the end of that summer. It took me awhile to get back into the swing of things, but once I did I am more in love with the sport than I ever have been. It took me two seasons, two different gyms, different coaching styles, and different work ethic to realize it, but giving up gymnastics helped me to understand how important it is to follow and pursue your dreams. I am inspired to continue to make gains in gymnastics and to never give up because I know this is definitely a path worth taking.

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