I was a squirrelly girl from a normal town in south Florida. My parents were both computer programmers and worked full time jobs. They were perpetually best friends and ridiculously in love. My brother and I were the stereotypical 70’s kids who spent our days going to school, fighting, watching cartoons, doing homework, riding our bikes, and eating microwave oven meals.
The only difference between our family and every other family in our neighborhood, was that I did gymnastics.
There was nothing special about my family, there was nothing special about me. If there was a magic crystal ball that could see into the future, I am sure it still wouldn’t have seen me. Somehow, by some twist of fate, I ended up in Barcelona competing for my country.
Sometimes people think that those who accomplish crazy dreams are those whose life starts off with an edge or a hand up, who have extra special help, or they they were born to be great. The truth is, there is no special formula or magical potion. No one can predict who will be the next big thing. No one would have picked me.
Most of my gymnastics career I was sloppy and dangerous. I would throw skills that I had no business throwing. I would “chuck” skills my teammates dared me to do. I tried to mimic the older girls on my team, and I did it all without any technique or form. It wasn’t pretty.
Neither was I, I was a scrappy kid without class nor prestige. I had curly hair I didn’t know how to style and I looked more like the kid who everyone hoped would grow out of her awkward stage quickly. But I had spunk and sass and an edge that was more important than confidence.
When it came time for me to test my skills, many people didn’t root for the girl with the sloppy tricks. Most people didn’t trust a broken and inconsistent gymnast who had a tendency to doubt herself when she was up against royalty. Overtime my own doubt made me mad. I had moments of pure genius, but more moments of utter muck.
As much as I didn’t want to go, I didn’t know how to stay. I was a kid who had an opportunity to do something that I wasn’t even sure I deserved. I was okay with my own doubt, by whenever I was taunted or denied by someone else, it set off something inside me that wouldn’t stop.
When they put me down, I stood back up. When they told me to stop, I defiantly did the opposite. No matter how hard some tried, I wouldn’t’ go away. However, when that door was ready to be opened, I pushed and shoved my way through it. I used all my spunk, sass, attitude, and grit to get to where I always wanted to go.
No one looked at me and said, wow you look like you have always belonged here among the best. I was always told wow, I can’t believe you made it. Somehow I ended up where everyone wanted to be, somehow I did make it, and know exactly how.
It was the people who did support me when others laughed. It was because of the ones who saw my frizzy hair, bushy brows, baggy leotards, and back yard gymnastics, but loved me anyway. It was because of the people who saw a diamond behind a whole bunch of rough, but worked and chipped away at my edges, piece by piece, and bit by bit.
For those who never gave up on me, for those who stood beside me when it wasn’t cool, for those who never saw me as “less then”, it was because of you that I (that we) were able to accomplish stupid crazy dreams.
I had a team of stupid crazy people who somehow thought that I had something to offer. They looked at me and said, yes…you have something.
When I was a kid, I remember sitting in the audience and listening to Kathy Johnson give a Motivational speech. She told us that someone us that we don’t have to be special to achieve our goals; and I thought, I am not special, she must be talking to me. She said, someone has to make the Olympics every four years, and that person could be you. Why shouldn’t it be you? I agreed. It could be me, it should be me, it has to be me.
That day Kathy planted a belief in me. I was either a little stupid or ridiculously brilliant, because since that moment, I knew my destiny. That day turned my fun loving sport into a passion, an addiction. There was no good reason I was able to do what Kathy told me I could, I just didn’t stop doing gymnastics.
Today I say that same thing. Why not you? Why can’t the next big thing, crazy dream, or amazing accomplishment be from you? There was nothing special about me, the only thing that I did that was any different from my friends or teammates or competitors was that I didn’t stop. I just kept working, training, and fighting.
I was never special, I was always Wendy Bruce, the girl who seemed to learn her lessons the hard way, who took more than one time to learn those lessons, who could have been left and thrown away, and who was just one of many in the crowd. I was always just a gymnast who did gymnastics. I was just a kid who wouldn’t stop.
Dreams don’t come to us in our sleep, dreams come to us when we least expect them too. When we are busy having fun and flipping ugly skills, that’s when we see that there may be something fun to follow. There may be some crazy idea that might come true. The best part about this journey is that no one knows the outcome. No one can predict the future, and so it is ours to mess with.
Have fun shocking people, making them look at you, and changing their id
eas about what can and can’t be. It could be you, it should be you, it will be you…now go do it.
Wendy Bruce is Author of the book Breaking Through a Mental Block. Wendy is the Owner of Get Psyched, Peak Performance Training. For more information on on Mental Training, camps, clinics, or workshops, visit www.psyched4sports.com