Looking For Acceptance

Ever since I was younger, I wanted to fit in. I was constantly trying to be accepted through sports.

All throughout my childhood I jumped from sport to sport constantly looking for acceptance and happiness. When I was five my parents put me in my pink leotard and signed me up for dance class; everyone in my dance class dreamed of being a pretty elegant ballerina when she grew up. When they asked me what I wanted to be they gave me weird looks because I told them I wanted to help people. I never understood why they gave me weird looks; it was my dream, and not theirs. I also did not know the struggles I would face in the years to come while trying to fit in and be happy. Eventually I found that I was anything but elegant and I was always tripping on my two left feet.

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The only thing I enjoyed about dance class was that I got to wear my sparkly, pink, leotard. Why my parents thought that I would do well in a dance class, I may never know. Eventually, I found that I did not belong in dance class and I decided that I would join soccer. I was the only girl on my soccer team, but that did not bother me at all. I never thought that it would bother anyone else.

On the first day of practice, I came bouncing in with excitement, happy to make new friends. I jogged onto the large, intimidating soccer field with my white YMCA jersey, black shorts, pink cleats, and shin guards. But I was constantly shut down by all of the boys on my team ever since the first day because I was just a “weak little girl”. Yes, I was very small and had pigtails with ribbons tied in them, but I also had a killer kick. Since I was always forced to be a goalie, no one was able to notice and appreciate my killer kick and they also never tried to get to know me.

After being stuck as the goalie for the entire season I decided to move on and try something new. I decided to try all-star cheerleading and I loved it. I loved every aspect of it from doing the dance moves to competing but little did I know at the time was that I had a horrifying fear of going backwards which would eventually be detrimental to my competitive cheerleading career. After four long years of struggling to fit in due to my fear of going backwards and not being able to advance with my friends, I quit cheerleading. I was always getting yelled at by my coaches; I understood their frustration because I could not do the simplest tasks such as a back handspring due to my fear. Leaving cheerleading was hard, but I eventually started to dread every practice since I was always getting yelled at, I had no friends on my team anymore, and my self-confidence was draining.

After cheerleading, I had a short experience in marching band and at that point I was almost getting ready to give up being accepted and finding the perfect place for myself. One day in June of 2013 one of my friends took me to one of her horseback riding lessons. I soon started taking lessons and I was in love, I tried my best to always find an excuse to be at the barn. I did not care if I had to muck out stalls all day; as long as I was there I was happy. When I joined horseback riding I was not in a good spot in life.

I was always dealing with a lot of depression and anxiety issues. I thought that I would never be able to be happy or accepted. Once I started lessons at my local barn I started becoming a lot happier and my anxiety eased once I arrived at the barn each week. I quickly excelled in the sport and spent as much time as possible with the horses and at the barn. Years later I am now the happiest I have been in years, and I now know exactly what I want to do when I grow up.

I want to help people, that is why I now volunteer at a small barn in LaCabraeh where I can help kids with special needs do their therapy on horses and I am a very happy person. I still ride weekly because it is my outlet but helping other people is what I love doing what I do and I want to do it until the day I die. Horseback riding has shaped me as a person in many ways. First, it helped me become happier, I now feel accepted and I know where I belong. If I am ever lonely, sad, or just having a bad day I know that I can come work at the barn and hang out with my barn friends.

When I ride I forget about the problems I am having, my mind is blank, I am focused only on me and the horse. Now I also compete with my riding and I get to make new friends at competitions and learn many life lessons. I think that everyone should search until they find that one thing that is right for them just like riding is great for me. Drawling or soccer could be someone else’s outlet where they can get away from the world and problems and be happy. No one can just deal with life on their own, everyone needs that one person or thing to get away and only focus on that especially during the rough high school years, everyone is changing and trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be which is rough but for me, I know that I can always get away, go to the barn, and forget about all my problems and struggles and just be happy.