By Dana Gornall
I was a cheerleader in high school.
People that know me now that didn’t know me in school, are always quite surprised. You see, I don’t fit the profile—or at least the pre-conceived notion of what our society thinks a cheerleader should look and act like. I run on the quieter and introverted side, and cheerleaders aren’t known to be quiet or introverted.
There are a lot of other personality traits and stereotypes we could explore about cheerleaders here, but I won’t get into that. For brevity’s sake, I will simply say, I don’t fit any of those stereotypes.
However, I am a cheerleader at heart. I genuinely like to encourage people. I truly want to see people succeed and I tend to go to great lengths to facilitate that success in any way I can, if possible.
It is just my nature. It isn’t put on, it isn’t pretend.
It isn’t that I want accolades or gushing gratitude sent my way—it just feels good knowing that I can help.
This part of my personality has its problems. I get taken advantage of from time to time; I get used. As Rhiannna put it in a recent song, “all of my kindness, gets taken for weakness,”—and it does.
And when it happens, I am usually left kind of dumbfounded and picking up the pieces of all of the parts of me I have so freely given without a second thought.
Call it naiveté, call it kind-hearted, call it stupid—whatever it is, I tend to find myself sideways and backward and a little bit turned inside out. And sometimes, my faith in the utter being of humanness gets shaken to its core.
You see, I tend to believe people are inherently good. I still do, in some ways (I guess). I am prone to thinking that most of us are all reaching for a common star—a star we all share while walking slowly to our cars on a clear, July night. And in that reaching, in the drive to be better, live better, share more, love more, we are all walking parallel paths.
Except we really aren’t, it seems. Or at least I’m not totally clear on this. Because while walking along with my head up at that star and a smile on my face, every so often I lose ground.
People fail me.
I find that there are those out there that are working against us. There are those that are ruined—not just a little broken or cracked but ruined differently—and they seek to hurt.
Whether they hurt you physically, emotionally or mentally, they are real and they cross my path from time to time.
You would think by now I would learn, and in some ways I have. I have found ways to thicken up my skin and have laid bricks around my heart. I have stopped counting on people, after one too many times a net has been pulled out from under me without expectation.
I have unearthed and planted a tiny seed of doubt within my soul that gives me roots when I have been walking with my head facing the clear sky for far too long.
Recently a friend mentioned that lately I am prone to seeing the darker side of things, more often than the light. My cheerleader spirit sunk low when those words were spoken, because she still stands firm somewhere, even on days when I see more shadows than sun. She pulls me through the weeks when it seems with every turned corner, I run into yet another wall or I get knocked off my feet with yet another blow.
I have taken so many blows, it seems of late.
Keeping my head faced toward that star that shines so brightly on a clear July night, I try to keep my roots firmly planted and my heart strongly guarded. And I aim to believe in the utter being of humanness even when that faith has been shaken to its core.
I try to see the light that has cast the shadow rather than see the shadow blocking the light.
Forgive me if I falter.
Because even cheerleaders get the blues, from time to time.