The Cheer Squad

Oh, hey. It’s me. Been awhile. Life has changed some for me, and I find myself pulled back to the blinking cursor of my blog. Maybe blogging is archaic in the age of TikTok and Instagram TV. I’ve decided I’m okay with being outdated. Writing is cathartic and a way for me to process my world. Sharing my writing is both of those things, as well.

So, here I sit. May the words follow…

I celebrated by 40th birthday this month. Some of my college friends asked how I was handling the reality of the big 4-0. I’m an “old soul” in many ways. Anyone who knows me will confirm that fact, and it’s to that sentiment I was alluding when I responded that 40 wasn’t much different than any other age. But that’s not entirely true. Because, what I’ve realized about 40 is I’m much more comfortable being a cheerleader than ever before in my life.

And it feels good. Really good.

I’ve identified as an athlete since I was in middle school. Cheerleaders were the people who weren’t on the court. They played some kind of support role I neither understood, nor respected. I wanted to fight for and earn the wins and losses for myself. Watching anyone else do it, or cheering from the sidelines seemed arbitrary and a far-second to being one of the stars in the game. If you weren’t on the team, you couldn’t understand, and you certainly weren’t playing an important role.

With age and experience, I have gained a different perspective about those positive, supportive, sidelines-role players.

I’ve seen a meme a few times in my social media feed. It’s funny. And it’s not. I’m not reprimanding anyone who shares(d) it. I see the humor; I do. It’s just the more I thought about it, I realized I wanted to post a rebuttal—offer a different perspective. I guess that’s what this is.

What’s the meme? It simply says, “Unless you fell off your treadmill, no one wants to hear about your workout.”

I laughed the first time I read it. The second time, I’d recently shared a video of myself deadlifting and the timing made me momentarily self-conscious. Don’t worry. I wasn’t wounded for long. The third time someone shared it, the idea stuck in my head that maybe this simple meme was saying something more than what appeared at first glance.

I think workout is interchangeable with, “anything you’re excited about that I’m not equally excited about.”

And therein lies the rub for me.

I don’t want to be a person who can’t be excited for others simply because their joy comes from a source I don’t understand. I don’t want to be that person, and I don’t want to be around that kind of person. I realize that may sound harsh. But, friends… I’m 40 now. I’m out of f*cks to give about how things sound. I’m about what things mean. I’m about what people mean and what they’re about. And I’ve decided I’ve only got time in my next 40+ years to hang with the cheer squad.

EVERY person who has found something from which they can draw on as a source of joy, excitement, challenge, achievement, and/or genuine pride—they are WINNING at this game of life. After all, THAT IS THE POINT OF ALL OF THIS LIFE BUSINESS, isn’t it? Aren’t we meant to give and receive joy—a.k.a. love? To share with the world our unique gifts and celebrate one another? I mean… that’s definitely my end-game. It’s what I aim to be about.

I have no idea who said it, but I couldn’t agree more, “If it makes you happy, it doesn’t need to make sense to anyone else.” Meaning; if you’re into it, that is enough of a reason to do it. And I am here for it!

20 year old, even 30 year old, me was not. She was too wrapped up in nonsensical “fitting in” and being “a key player” to realize the person who gets the most out of the game of life is the person who can find joy—recognizes it—pursues it, and celebrates the hell out of it. More to the point; if you can join in WITH others who are winning at life, cheer them on, celebrate with them… you get to share in their joy.

Cheerleaders are damn geniuses.

Traditional societal standards of “success” and “acceptance” have literally nothing to do with true joy. Think about it. I mean, really…dig into it. You’ll eventually realize the magnitude of this truth. It’s life changing.

I’m so deeply grateful to be a person who realizes at the age 40 and not a single day over it, that my strategy for wining at life will be one grounded in true joy. I will waste zero of my future gifted days waiting for someone else to fall off a treadmill so I can laugh, instead of cheering them on. I will celebrate their efforts and join in on the life-winning joy they experience in their pursuit of whatever in this wide, beautiful world is meant for them.

So… post the damn picture of your cat, your kids, your latest hike, the quilt you finished, the view from your favorite chair, the meal you made, the new outfit you put together, your bike, your boat, your buddy, the new shop you discovered, the book you’re reading, your softball team, your garden, the engine you rebuilt, your baby’s carrot puree covered face, your grandkid’s artwork, the sunset, the certificate of completion for that class you took, and yes… your freaking workout too.

If no one in your life can get excited about your joy because they don’t understand it, or it doesn’t make sense to them, or they don’t derive joy from the same thing? Rest assured.

You have at least one new-to-the-game, yet enthusiastic to learn, and absolutely sincere 6’0+, 40 year old cheerleader on your side of the court. She’s imperfect, opinionated, and full of random thoughts, but she’s ready to cheer you on loud and proud.

And she’s more than ready to be an official member of the cheer squad where she’ll be able to learn from the real winners.