Why I'm Becoming a Cheerleader

I'm not naturally an optimistic person. I'm never been described as bubbly or cheery or perky or any of those sparkly words. I'm also an introvert who gets pretty exhausted by people pretty quickly, and I would rather read books by myself than hang out with tons of friends.

But now, I'm becoming a cheerleader. Not the pom-pom tossing kind, but the loving, encouraging, community-building, people-celebrating kind.

It comes as a surprise to me that cheering people on has become something I adore doing. It goes against my grain in so many ways, but it's now engrained in who I am.

I love to celebrate people's victories.

I love to compliment people.

I love to call out talents and applaud successes.

I love to share words of affirmation, write little love notes, and doodle messages on the kitchen white board.

I love being a cheerleader. 

None of this comes naturally to me. It's all been a process, and it's been an intentional one. In the last few years, with the influx of Twitter chats, I got involved in new communities of online friends. One in particular was known for celebrating people well, for calling them out in the best ways. It was a whole lot of love flooding people through their Twitter notifications, and at first, I absolutely hated it.

It felt phony, fake, shallow. These people had never even met me in real life, how could they possibly be complimenting me? But then I realized something. The more they affirmed my writing or the work I was sharing online or even just my own self, the more connected to them I felt, and the better I felt about myself.

Words matter. We know this. We were taught since we were kids to say nice things or stay quiet if we couldn't. I've just decided to make the choice to use my words in ways that build people up.

It's simple really. It's things like sending emails with specific praise back to my writers when they send me their latest drafts. It's things like tweets to friends when they mention a bad day, or even fantastic news, letting them know I'm seeing what they're saying and I'm here for them. It's things like texts to a long-distance pal days after a recent break-up to check in and shares funny jokes and make sure she's holding up okay. It's things like starting an Instagram page and a hashtag with the sole purpose of celebrating wins. It's sending surprise flowers to a friend during the holidays, or writing little notes to all my loved ones for Thanksgiving just to share why I'm grateful for them.

They're little things, but they're the big things. At the end of the day when I look back over what I've done, they're the bright spots, because they were the times I got to connect with someone else and share love. 

I'm not excellent at it yet by any means. Most days, I resort to my self-centered, introverted, pessimistic ways and am pretty bad at loving people. Most days, it's easier to just ignore my phone than to use it to connect with friends. Most days, I fall so short of loving like Jesus would, and it's humbling and convicting.

So I'm making an intentional effort to be a better cheerleader. I'm inviting you to join me. Pick any little way you want, and love the people in your life a little more today.

Our world could use a few more cheerleaders these days, don't you think?