Where to find yours.
A cheerleader is peppy, smiley, able to fly through the air and bring a crowd up from the depths of despair. Even when they are losing, a cheerleader will encourage their team with confidence and chants of affirmations.
Behind the cheers and jumps are strong convictions in the power of optimism such as “we believe in you!” “You can do it!” “Don’t give up!” How can a team not perform at their best with this type of support?
When cheering, a cheerleader’s vocal and visual box of energy builds momentum, becomes contagious, and spreads through the audience and onto the field giving the team a boost in confidence and energy.
Something Switched Amid The Cheers
I was a cheerleader my senior year of high school (yes that’s me in the picture – class of 1991). I found that practicing these types of chants day after day really got to my head. I mean, I was your typical high school girl trying to find my way, battling insecurities, struggling with math, sensitive in every way, and wanting to be loved by my peers.
But something happened my senior year with all those chants and cheers. I suddenly felt mentally nourished like I had an overdose of vitamin C every day. I started to think that I wasn’t just chanting for the team “we’ve got spirit” but subconsciously I was also plugging my name into those chants. I was imagining myself as part of the “go team” and the “you’ve got this” oh yes and the “you can do it”!
It was like a brain bomb of positivity went off in my head and I was reprogramming my mind to be stronger, persevere, and thrive to its full potential.
It no longer seemed to matter that my parents were divorced or that math was really hard for me or that I didn’t get invited to all the cool social events. I just stopped doubting myself and my possibilities and started focusing on what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to go and I believed it was all going to happen.
The New Wave Cheerleader
When I was feeling isolated and alone while in the Peace Corps and struggling to learn a new language, I realized I was my own best friend and my world’s best cheerleader. That I wouldn’t ever have my cheer squad again so I better figure out how to be kind to myself and not judge myself too much.
This is when I learned that to stay the course towards my dreams, I needed to find inspiration in reading, listening to music, writing, and getting outdoors. To this day these are still the things that turn on my positive self-talk and give me fuel for my inner cheerleader.
As an adult, I find that sometimes I need to be even more intentional about staying positive when life starts to really sting. I have to retrain myself constantly to ride the up and down waves. I even read and recite positive words of affirmations. Sometimes that can be looking at myself in the mirror and saying, “you are bigger and more powerful than your problems” or “you are smart enough” and “you are loved”. I’ve even gone as far as making a video and podcast focused on words of affirmations that I listen to frequently and share with others.
By staying on top of my mental game and plugging into my inner cheerleader, I find that my optimism can be very contagious. When I’m overflowing with positive energy, others around me are benefitting as well.