I'll try to make this as short as possible lol.
I started gymnastics at the age of 10 in a rec class. My dream was to be on a competitive team, but we couldn't afford that so I chose to stay in the rec class and learn what I could. In a few months I had advanced to level 4 rec and I still dreamed of being on a competitive team, but at one point at an open gym, a team coach told me that I was too old for team and that no gym would want an almost 11yr old on their team, no matter what level I was. When I tell you my heart dropped, like it physically felt like it had collapsed. I was crushed and honestly thought about quitting. But after talking to my coach, I decided to stay and work on what I could, hoping that one day I could prove that coach wrong. So for the next 5 years I continued to work on skills similar to ones in level 6/7, even working on standing back tucks on beam and half pirroutes on bars, which 10yr old had DREAMED of doing on a competitive team.
Now fast forward to 2020. An old coach from my gym had left the gym started their own. After helping out with getting the gym together, the owner offered me a spot to train with his competitive team in exchange for me helping coaching the recreational classes. I'm not going to lie, I balled my eyes out when he told me, and I felt like my younger self was screaming and jumping with joy. I loved the idea of coaching because of what my coach did for me, and anything involving gymnastics had my heart, so it was a no brainer. It was such an incredible experience, and I had learned so much while I was there. Every now and then I would think about what that one coach said, but now I wish I could look at him and go "who said I was too old for a competitive team again?" Although I was the oldest (I was 16, the second oldest was 13) I still made the most of it, and was even able to compete! (albeit, for a highschool team because I thought being a 16yr old level 7 was way too old, which spoiler alert, it is NOT)
Anyways, a year later I started to fall out of love with the sport when I turned 17, and shortly after, the gym eventually closed down. I felt lost for a bit and struggled a lot with trying to find who I was as a person without gymnastics. And if I'm being honest, I feel like that's a struggle a lot of people tend to overlook, and it took a hard hit on my mental health. But Coach S and Coach C had helped me a LOT with my struggle, and although my story was like a rollercoaster, I am still so so grateful for this experience. I learned so many life lessons from my journey, and I'm so glad I hit the lottery with the most supportive family and coaches.