This post is sponsored by Jif. All stories and opinions are my own.
I was so nervous; it was the first time I’d ever met a hero of mine. We slipped into the main entrance of the strip mall, my mom and I, and turned into the book store. Taking our place in line I thumbed through the book I’d brought to have signed. On the cover was a picture of the 1992 Olympic gymnastics team, my personal hero Kim Zmeskal was sandwiched between Shannon Miller and Dominique Dawes on either side.
How does one meet a person they’ve looked up to and admired for so long? I still struggle with it when I meet women who inspire me in my career and life. Blame it on nerves, insecurity or my introverted nature but the shakes and nervous sweats have been part of my social repertoire for as long as I can remember.
The thing you should know is that before I shot up to my current Amazon height I was a gymnast. A gymnast with big dreams of making it to the Olympic games. A gymnast who dreamed big even though I was probably already too tall to perform at Olympic levels. I entered my gymnastics classes confidently, wanting to work hard and be the best. Looking up to the US Olympic team was just a natural progression for me, as it was for all of the kids in my class!
Every kid dreams of being in the Olympics for something they love – skiing, gymnastics, track & field, curling, you name it – and according to this survey 91% of Americans believe that being part of Team USA would be the honor of a lifetime. I am very admittedly part of that 91%, because honestly who doesn’t want to be the best at something they love? And to be able to represent your country on a worldwide platform – it’s a beautiful thing.
One thing I admire so much is the way Jif® supports Team USA and everything it stands for. Jif® understands our need for dreams and that the path to realizing them starts with asking a simple question: “What if?” Nourishing those dreams is a great jumping off point, and that’s where Jif®’s expertise partners perfectly. When compiling this survey Jif® interviewed more than 2,000 nationally represented adults over 18 years of age to get a true feeling of the inspiration our country gets from Team USA, and to challenge us all with that very small question: “What if?”
During a time where it feels like we are all drifting apart, chasms forming for every reason under the sun, our Olympians unite us all through their hard work. We relearn how to dream, investigate our own potential, seek ways to challenge ourselves to be the very best we can be. Team USA athletes don’t just create good stories with their lives, they challenge the rest of us to do the same, with 77% of Americans agreeing that by watching our country’s athletes compete they feel inspired to pursue their own dreams.
I think it’s safe to say and to see that I never went on to make the US Olympic gymnastics team. My season in the sport was short-lived; however, the lessons of dreaming big and working hard are still alive and well. I may not be able to compete at an Olympic level, but applying the work ethic and emboldened confidence of the athletes that so proudly make up Team USA gives me an edge in the things I do.
I can’t wait for Friday and the opening ceremonies and hope you guys all take the time to think about your #WhatIf moments!