I started gymnastics when I was three years old and just recently stopped last year at 16. I was a Level 10 that practiced 25 hours a week. I was a slave to the sport...constantly missing out on social events in and out of school and telling friends "I cant. I have practice." Except that weird thing was, I loved it. The sport made me feel like I was good at something. I was Maria, the gymnast. The girl who could do all sorts of flips. It was always my "fun fact" when introducing myself to people during those stupid ice breakers on the first day of school. Gymnastics defined me and quite frankly, it was the most important thing in my life.
Gymnastics is probably the most amazing and challenging sport out there. Girls will train an insane number of hours a week to achieve perfection. The sport comes with a brutal mentality, really. I mean the skills are scary. Really scary. Who in their right mind would do flips on a four inch wide beam that's four feet off the ground?? Me and plenty of other people apparently... But it was something to push through and after completing that skill, it really was the best feeling in the world. However, the pressure and awful mentality started to get to me. I was no longer happy going to practice everyday. I hated it actually. I was afraid to do my skills, I didn't want to do it in college and I felt I wasn't very good anymore. So what was the point? I was afraid to tell my coach these things in fear that she would be disappointed in me (i mean I literally spent more time with this woman than my actual family). I felt like I was throwing away everything I had worked for the past 13 years and I was terrified of the huge change quitting would bring, but with life there comes all sorts of change. Once I realized that, I made the decision to stop the single most important thing in my life. My mom described it as a divorce (lol i swear that's what it felt like). After I stopped, I felt like I was having an identity crisis for about 3 months. I had no idea what to do with all my free time or who I was. I felt like I wasn't good at anything and that was probably the hardest thing to get over. Soon I joined a gym, started going to every football game at school and all of a sudden I could actually hang out with people. I started to experience all the things a teenager should and it was great.
Gymnastics was and always will be a huge part of my life. It brought me countless life lessons, amazing trips, and my three best friends that I already know are going to be my bridesmaids. And for that, I can't be more thankful to have done this amazing sport. Its been almost a year out of gymnastics and I can officially say that I am a much happier person who is no longer defined by a single thing.
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