10 Ways Being a Pom Has Encroached on My Adult Life

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1. Bruises and injuries are not detriments, but rather physical trophies of going hard: When I was seriously dancing, my friends and I used to have competitions to see who could accumulate the biggest, nastiest, best bruise (I always won because I bruise like a peach). When you are 5’8″ and can jump realllllly high, landing on the ground usually results in some kind of injury. I love showing my bruises off, because I take pride in the fact that I acquired them from going really hard at something (like last week, when I kicked a softball? That bruise hurts…)

2. Anytime and any place is perfect for perfecting my skills: Watching t.v., eating lunch with my department, shopping at the grocery store, etc. Being an athlete means that you devote 100% of your day to being the best kind of athlete you can be; it means doing wall splits while you are reading for English class, practicing your balance when you are standing in line, going over your routine when you are bored in class. When I was in high school, my teammates and I used to practice our toe touches off the diving board because we were that intense. Nowadays, you might find me still stretching and practicing my dance moves in random places. I can’t help it. It’s ingrained in me.

3. I have two types of appearances: Performance Ready and I-Haven’t-Showered-In-Three-Days-And-Am-Wearing-Sweats-And-Don’t-Care-And-Am-Still-Going-Out-Like-This: I feel very fortunate to have been on a dance team, because it taught me how to do my make up, how to dress, and how to do my hair(and also, how to draw on a six-pack, how to shade your cleavage to make your boobs appear bigger, etc.) When I want to get done up, I know exactly how to do it. However, if I could make the rules, I would wear sweats everyday to school. My sister sometimes refuses to hang out with me in the summer because I get so lazy with my appearance.

4. I go all out, all the time: I honestly feel really bad for my friends when they work out with me, because I am INTENSE (that is probably why the only ones who still work out with me are my dance friends?). I have suffered through reallllly long, grueling, cardio-centered practices and workouts, so I know the human body can handle way more than we give it credit for. I don’t ever understand why you would show up to a workout class and not give 150%, the entire time. If my yoga instructor tells me to do a wheel, with my left hand lifted and my right foot off the ground into a hip stretch, and twist my head to the ceiling, and close my eyes–but “only if your body allows”–damn straight, I will MAKE my body allow that pose. This also translates outside of physical activity as well. Last year, I made a poster to sell sunglasses. And, when I hung the poster, I made sure to also hang some flashing Christmas lights in the corner. Why ever do anything with mediocrity?

5. I have the potential to WIN at everything: Skiing, running, holding my hurdler longer than the guy next to me in yoga, finishing a unit plan faster than everyone else, being the last of my friends to get a speeding ticket, etc. Being a pom instilled an incredibly competitive spirit in me and even things that don’t even call for a winner (um, like racing other cars off the stoplight)–I am going to WIN at.

6. I feel a need to write people cards and give gifts at the end of things: End of the school year, Christmas time, birthdays, break-ups, etc. I am not really sure why, but I always feel the need to banquet-tize everything and everyone…

7. Never go ANYWHERE unprepared; you never know what could happen: As I was packing to go to Las Vegas, I was instructing my almost 21 year old sister on what she should put in her purse when she does turn 21 and wants to go out. In my purse, I usually carry the usual things (ID, money, phone), and then I also make sure I have a snack (in case my blood sugar drops suddenly drops and I am ravishing and feel like I will pass out right that moment if I don’t get), some hand sanitizer (in case the bathrooms don’t have any, a matching scent lotion for after the sanitizer), lipgloss, extra bobby pins and hair ties (in case I or one of my friends loses theirs, or we need one to break into a car), safety pins (in case someone’s outfit breaks), a razor (in case I forgot to shave my underarms and am wearing a super cute tube top), a pen (to get someone’s number or to split the check) Ibprophen/Tums/Mucinex/a Xanax (you just really never know)…

8. Details, details, details!: The details always pull everything together. I always cringe when I watch wedding ceremonies and the bridesmaids have not been instructed to stand the same exact way–foot popped, flowers to the right hip, shoulders to the front, 65% smile on your face (because, if you grin 100%, your eyes get squinty and then the pictures turn out TERRIBLE). Oh, and formations are of vital importance. If my classroom desks are not arranged in an orderly fashion or my yoga mat is not in a window and have equal space around me, I freak and can’t concentrate.

9. Never, ever, let anyone see your failures: I often am told that I am “hard to read”. This has nothing to do with me wanting to hide things from other people, and everything to do with being raised as a pom. As a pom, if you mess up the routine, you keep your smile plastered on your face, hoping the judges didn’t even notice. As a pom, no one cares if you have a sprained ankle or broken thumb; your team still needs you and you suck it up for the two minutes you perform. This translates to my adult life, especially in my teaching. Last week, I told my students, “I like it when the lights go out”, followed by, “Just find a place and stick it in!” Of course, the immature freshmen boys in the corner were making fun of me but I just let it slide and pretend nothing was the matter.

10. And, everything is better with a little glitter. 

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