Life is often tough, in many different ways. Self-doubt, economic struggle, confusion, emotional pain, lack of motivation. They all suck. They all help to convince you that whatever your goal is it is unobtainable.
That’s where cheerleaders come in. Not quite the ones with the pompoms although, you know, each to their own, but the ones who are there on the sidelines, giving their all to help you move onwards to where you want to be.
I was literally writing this post and chatting at the same time (because we love to multitask) to writing friends on Twitter. We were talking about trying to get lots of different tasks done and how its always such a balancing act. What happened next is an example of why I love this community and how important the cheerleading squad is:
The writing community on Twitter is a vibrant and wonderful place! The @WriteFightGifClub is a group of amazing people who have fun and go crazy but at the same time they help with writing questions, beta read for each other, and give both emotional and practical encouragement on a regular basis. I am a happier person and a better, and braver, writer because of them. There are many amazing writing communities and groups on Twitter and finding your tribe, your group of people, or collecting them all (like pokemon) makes for a wonderful extended family of cheerleaders. Writers understand self doubt. They’ve experienced rejection and setbacks. They want to learn, they want to get better, and they want to help others get better. I’m sure it’s the same for many other likeminded communities on Twitter, but I do have to say that writers, in my experience, are particularly kind and welcoming.
It doesn’t have to come from someone who is doing the same as you either. I have a friend at school who knows I’m writing. I’ve been trying to get up at 5am every morning to get writing done before school and this hasn’t been easy for me as I’m much more of an owl than a lark. Whenever I see him he asks if I did any writing that morning; he high fives me when I do well, he listens with interest to my ramblings about my story, he makes it clear that he thinks what I’m doing is worthwhile and that I’m doing it well. He’s not a writer, but because he’s cheering me on he makes me feel like I can do it, like I want to do it.
Encouragement gives us a reason to keep going.
Cheerleaders are like gold. There are always people who will tell you that you can’t do it, or helpfully point out all the obstacles in the way. The ones who lift you over the obstacles or pick you up out of the mud when you fall off them and cheer you on as you try again (or let you cry on their shoulder for a bit when you really just can’t, and then cheer you on) are the ones you want to surround yourself with. I have written before about facing vulnerability and fear and the importance of letting other people help you when you are faced with difficulties you don’t think you could overcome.
The great thing about having a cheer squad is that you become a cheerleader too. There is something wonderful about being able to support and help someone else. As a teacher we do it all the time with our students, and there is a wonderful Ted Talk by Rita Pierson – Every Child Needs a Champion that outlines the benefit to children of this cheerleading, this championing. But we need it too as adults. And we need to make sure we give it to other adults, whoever they are and whatever stage they are at.
Imagine a world where every person had a champion.
We can’t make that happen for everyone, but we can at least do it for the people around us. Take the time to find out what your friends, family, workmates are wanting to achieve, what they love, what they are anxious about. Make the effort to ask how they’re going and to cheer them on from the sidelines.
Find your cheerleaders. Be a cheerleader. Be a champion.