Originally posted 10/27/17IMG_3733

Apparently, I am a cheerleader. I even have my own song and everything. Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates my cheerleaderocity, which my beloved son continues to remind me. Even more unfortunately, lately I’ve been lacking the pep in my rally. Okay, here’s the situation…

Yes, I was a cheerleader in high school. The pom poms, short skirts, megaphones and all. But that’s not the kind of cheerleading we’re talking about here. That cheerleader is a temporary position. The cheerleader we are discussing is a permanent personality. She’s the coworker who always greets you with an easy compliment and soft smile. He’s the friend you find any excuse to be around because his mere presence lifts your mood. She’s the grandmother who rubs your back knowingly while muffling a snicker as you lament over how horrible your parents are behaving. He’s the boss who gives you job leads because, as much as he doesn’t want to lose you, he also wants to see you reach your highest potential. We are the few, the proud, the Mar…I mean the cheerleaders!

Cheerleading is not a sport. I’m sorry Friends, it’s not. Cheerleading is a personal characteristic. As much as you want to tone it down, you just can’t freaking help it. This trait makes you want to run around all day doling out hugs and high fives when you’re at your highest. It makes you wake up with a laugh in your heart because…we’ll, just because. It makes you head bang in your car, belt out notes you have no business attempting and dance in a crowded supermarket not caring who is watching. This is me. I am a cheerleader.

Recently, I have not allowed my cheerleaderocity to flourish, because I was afraid that I was annoying my friends and family. At one point, I’d send them letters, emails and texts on a regular basis to say “hey”. You are not alone, I’m here! I’ve got your back! Congratulations! You can do this! Thank you! Which are many ways to remind them that “I love you”. I can understand how this can become a little overwhelming, especially for people who are not emotional like me or simply feel too self conscious about an appropriate way to respond. I get it.

The truth is, that I never expected anything of them. They could have replied a thanks, emoji or, my favorite, “cool”. I do this because it is who I am. I am a cheerleader. I don’t do it for gratitude or even a reply. My hope is that I can bring a little lift to a heavy heart or make someone smile when their world is crap. But whether it has this affect or none at all does not matter to me. I repeat for those in the back row (megaphone to mouth) I AM A CHEERLEADER!

No one in my immediate household appreciates this quality. I am a night owl (along with the youngest two) and an early bird. (The oldest and Honey are neither. They like their sleep.) Therefore, I understand their frustration when I refuse to turn out the lights at 1:00 am or walk into their bedrooms singing “rise and shine” with my mug of green tea at the break of dawn. Again, I get it. Nobody likes to be bothered by a hyper-animated sleep stealer when they are snuggled and warm in their cozy beds. It’s annoying.

To keep peace at home, I gradually transferred my excitement onto casual acquaintances and strangers. “Have a fantastic Friday!” I’d say to a store clerk with a bit too much exuberance. “I love your new haircut!” I’d compliment, intending to sound sincere but coming across as creepy and stalkerish. “Your baby is the definition of cute,” I’d gush as the lady proceeded to clutch her child to chest and scurry away leaving sidelong glances to make sure I wasn’t following them. Soon after this experiment failed, I learned to stifle my cheer. You see where this is heading, right Friend?

Stifling any part of your personality can only end in two ways. Either you can swing from the extreme of completely suppressing that quality to having it explode in geysers OR you can become slightly depressed from not being your authentic self. I experienced a little of both. Okay, a lot of both, and it was disastrous.

Not only am I a cheerleader, but I’m also an introvert. (The two can coexist. Trust me.) In an attempt to spare those closest to me, I found myself exploding compliments onto defenseless people. Then I retreated to berate myself for once again being a weirdo in public. I’m not antisocial or even socially awkward. I just don’t read people all that well. In my mind, everyone thinks like me. Everyone enjoys a cheerful compliment, and everyone wants to be happy. No, Tonya. No, they do not. Not only do some people not want to be happy, they don’t want to be around other people who are happy. So, I slowly let my light dim.

A funny thing happened over the summer. I began getting phone calls, texts and emails from people with the same basic message. I miss you. Awww!

It turns out, I was not as annoying as I thought I was. And even if I was, who cares? They missed me! They missed me being excited for them when they finally got up to a 5K on the treadmill. They missed me shrieking with laughter as they relayed the story of them sliding down a flight of stairs then jumping up into a gymnastics pose. (That’s so Tonya) They even missed my “I told you so” when they passed that class they were sure they would fail. As goofy, unnaturally optimistic and somewhat annoying as she may be, they missed their cheerleader.

Well, I’m back, Baby! And I have yet another pearl of wisdom to add to the necklace.
Don’t ever dull your light to make another person feel comfortable.
If they love you, they will accept you in your full glory. As a matter of fact, when you shine your brightest, they see your example and turn their own lights up a few ticks. If they complain about your wattage or can’t handle your glow, it’s probably best for you to part ways. That person is not your peeps.

Your peeps encourage you to be glorious and support your strides toward improvement. Your peeps are the first ones to offer congratulations for the good things and a sympathetic ear for the not so good things. Your peeps are honest when you need to hear truth, funny when you need to laugh, and quick to tell you to get over yourself when you’re being obstinate. Your peeps are those who share themselves without asking anything in return and allow you to do the same. Your peeps are your cheerleaders.

This one is for the cheerleaders of the world and my personal cheerleaders, my peeps. May you head bang in your car, belt out notes you have no business attempting and dance in a crowded supermarket not caring who is watching. And may you always shine your light into the world. I love you!


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