Neither of us were cheerleaders in high school. Jill played volleyball and basketball and well, my tiny school in South Africa did not offer cheerleading as a sporting activity. But I think I want to be a cheerleader now. No, I don't want to forfeit music and go try out to be a Cowboys cheerleader (but aren't they the best ones, really?)...I want the people in my life to think I am their (personal) cheerleader. We were driving across the country years ago and we listened to a couple women who were speaking on different issues to pass the time and one of them talked about how women can often be driven by comparison, insecurity, jealousy, etc. She said if you are ever short on friends...be a cheerleader and you will never lack for friends again. This was probably seven or eight years ago that I heard this woman talk about that idea but it has stuck with me.
What if we all were cheerleaders?
What if you have a friend and you know that without a shadow of a doubt they will get behind whatever crazy idea you are doing and cheer you on? Your unique fashion choices? Doesn't matter--they'd cheer you on and send your pic to People magazine and nominate you as a "fashionista to watch." Your idea to sell all your belongings and live in a storage unit downtown? You'd know they'd help you sell your stuff and drive you downtown--cheering you on along the way. You think you're the next President of the United States--they're making buttons for people to vote for you. These cheerleaders wouldn't give you laundry list of how you're not qualified or tell you that a lot of people out there are more talented than you or that the idea will never work...these people would just cheer you on.
I just wonder how much more awesome life would be if that were the case. I wonder if jealousy and insecurity would just start to diminish. If there would be more bold and creative movements and ideas because people knew that even if their idea totally flopped they'd still have people cheering them on.
We were just at a conference in Austin with our friend Bob Goff...conference sounds too formal...it was really just a big group of friends that all became family and hung out for a few days talking about how love does stuff. Anyway--something that Bob said over and over again was "Tell people who they are. Tell them what you see in them." When I heard him say this it reminded me of the cheerleading idea. It made me want to change--it made me want to cheer--to tell people who they are, what I see in them, maybe even when they can't see it in themselves.
While I was thinking about this idea I realized I have a friend like this. I have an ultimate cheerleading friend. She has never once done anything else than cheer for me. We live very different lives. She is a math teacher, I am a musician. She has lived in the same place her whole life, while the longest I have ever lived in the same place is 6 years. She is an amazing athlete and basketball coach, I know very little about balling (yes, I said balling-HA.) We met in college and have been friends for almost 10 years and in that time she has been a total cheerleader for my life. She's been to countless shows...and not just the fun ones...she has shown up to the worst venues with approximately zero people attending...okay maybe one person if you count the bartender...and after we finish our set she is literally clapping, cheering and high-fiving us like we just finished playing Madison Square Garden. When I call her and tell her about my latest royal dating FAIL...she cheers me on. She tells me that she's proud of me and that the right guy is out there. She knows that I am passionate about orphans in Africa and so she put her butt on a plane for 14 hours to fly with me to see the need in real life. It wasn't enough for her to hear about what I was into...she wanted to see it for herself. Ugh...you guys...I'm tearing up as I write this. I am so thankful for a friend like her. She is not driven by insecurity or fear, she tells me who I am. She cheers me on.
I don't think I've been as much of a cheerleader to her as I could've been. Surely not as much as she has been to me. But I want to be. And I'm gonna try.
What if we got to know our mailman and told him or her what an awesome job they were doing? What if you finally told your sibling that you never got along with or had much in common with that you wanted to know more about what they're into...and cheered them on.
Make a ist of the people in your life and find ways to tell them who they are. Look them square in the eyes and tell them what you see. Cheer them on. Be their cheerleader.