My name's Sheridan Decker and I am currently a college student in the relentless search for the best version of myself; just like so many of you. The message, MAKE YOURSELF PROUD is so much more than words on a shirt to me. This idea has motivated my quest for purpose and has pulled me through both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.


Those of you who know me know that I grew up in the sport of gymnastics and I can honestly attribute most of who I have become to the experiences that this sport provided me with. Through the trials and tribulations of being a young athlete, I was driven by nothing more than the desire to make my family proud. My vision of success was the day that my hard work would pay off so that I could give every once of the credit back to my family and the people who believed in me and prove the ones who didn't wrong.


THIS IS OKAY. There is nothing wrong with being motivated by the people who believe in you, and I will never stop wanting my parents and the people who propel me forward to be proud of me.


But one day, after a rough competition, I was outside on the sidewalk of a gym crying to my dad. I felt like my world was ending based on one bad day because I had put my whole identity into my athletic success. I would have done the same for the next competition and the one after that until my Dad opened my eyes to something so important. While sitting on that curb sobbing I remember telling him "I'm just trying to make you and Mom proud." This statement was branded with defeat because I was placing my worth and my effort in the wrong places. I will never forget his response, "Screw that, MAKE YOURSELF PROUD."


& That’s when the game changed.


There's something beautiful in searching for your own validation above others; it's what makes you strong and independent. My life changed when I moved into a phase of taking pride in my own actions and how those actions were impacting my life rather than looking for approval from those around me. I am so far from having it all figured out and these ideals are not the golden key to success, but I do believe that living to a standard that you are proud of does bring happiness and fulfillment and that's a form of success worth chasing.


Resilience, tenacity, strength, drive, and resolve are what -MAKE YOURSELF PROUD- means to me.


These are my values, my direction, and they are all things that are in my own control. I know that if I live by these principles I can fall asleep knowing that I did everything in my power that day to pursue my best self, and that's something to be proud of.