5: View from the Top

5: View from the Top

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens

View from the Top

Always act like you’re wearing an invisible crown.

~Author Unknown

I was so excited to make the cheerleading squad in eighth grade. I was one of the “smart girls” so most of the time I wasn’t accepted by the popular crowd. I felt sure that cheerleading was a way to get to know them and maybe even get invited to some of their parties.

Our first few practices were fun, with everyone getting fitted for uniforms and learning the easiest cheers. Most of the time I talked with my best friend since the popular girls still didn’t talk to me much.

The cheers got harder and we started to practice flips and turns to go with the cheers, and then we started to build pyramids. The coaches chose me to be on the bottom of the pyramid every time. The girls began to call me “thunder thighs” since I was bigger than most of them.

I hated being on the bottom of the pyramid and longed to be higher up or even on the top for one of the cheers, but that wasn’t going to happen. The most popular girl on our squad always got the top position. She was petite and had the most beautiful blond hair. It was so pale that it was almost white. My own hair was sort of this blond/brown color and I thought it would be great to have hair like that.

The day we had all waited for finally came — our uniforms had arrived! I remember getting my skirt and sweater and heading to the girls room to change. Our school colors were red and white and the skirts were split to show both colors when we spun around. I hurried into the uniform and looked at myself in the mirror. I looked horrible.

Oh, I knew I wasn’t the thinnest person on the squad, but when I saw how I looked in that short skirt, well, I was really disappointed and even embarrassed. We had to tuck our sweaters in and you could see every line of my sweater through my skirt because it was pretty tight. I smoothed it out as best I could but I still didn’t like the way it looked.

I spent as much time as I could in the bathroom because I didn’t want anyone to see me. I didn’t realize that the girl from the top of our pyramid was also trying on her uniform. She came out of the stall, looked at herself in the mirror and started to cry.

I asked her what was wrong and she said she hated the way she looked. She was so thin her skirt gaped open at the waist. I realized then that the uniforms we both had been so excited to get weren’t such a great gift after all.

I tried to cheer her up and said that at least she had really great hair and she surprised me by saying she wished her hair looked more like mine. She said her hair was so light people thought she bleached it and that she’d love to have honey colored hair like mine instead.

We talked a little bit more until the coach came in and asked what was wrong. We showed her our uniform problems and her solution was to have the whole team wear their sweaters outside the skirts.

The next time we formed the pyramid I smiled to myself, knowing that the girl up there on the top that everyone was looking at wished she had my hair. Maybe the view from the bottom wasn’t so bad after all.

~Shawn Marie Mann

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