Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rah-Rah-Rah OR The Cheerleading Act

Do you know me a little bit? Have you had a drink with me once or sat in a class with me, worked alongside me, played sports (what?) with me, or ever laid eyes on me?

Then you know I'm not the cheerleading type. I don't have the stamina for it - especially when it comes to the "RAH factor" and the flexibility. Also the body type. (Let's not go there.)
The RAH factor
But, guess what? Sometimes, as they say, life happens and you're stuck holding the baton (do cheerleaders have batons? Yes, I am THAT out of touch) - or the pom-poms (there we go) - charged with cheering your heart out, at the top of your lungs, waving your arms, anything to drown out the defeaning cry of the negativity gremlins on the side lines:







They're loud and they never tire. And they're always ready at a moment's notice to knock your door down and bring you to tears.

Screw the gremlins, I say in my best high-pitched voice. It sounds almost peppy. Almost.

I don't belong here on the sidelines - even in high school, I was the girl in the top left corner of the stands, or way back in the back behind the snack bar (typical). The closest I got to the "action" was sneaking a quick hello to my marching band boyfriend who sat in the stands (again, typical). I have never been an up-close-and-in-your-face kind of girl. I wasn't born with the RAH factor. I was born with the "roll with it" middle child factor.The impossibly-tall-and-yet-shy-and-introverted factor. The walk softly and carry a big notebook sort of quiet observer. Seeking peace, not battle. Never very good at competition.

Peaceful girls play the flute
I made a habit of turning everything into a joke from an early age. My grandfather used to call me "JK" because I was constantly picking on my little sister as he drove us to and from elementary and middle school. I developed a fondness for the nickname and went with it. I learned to hide behind humor, sarcasm, cynicism to cope with things that made me feel threatened, or scared, or alone. I became the anti-RAH girl. I silently hated the RAH girls - and maybe a part of me still does. There's always been something unauthentic about it to me. The fact is, there isn't always something to be RAH about.

This is part of my personal code - in the words of Rocky "this world ain't all sunshine and rainbows" and while I love a sunny day and a sweet rainbow as much as the next gal, I also know part of life is accepting the stormy weather, too. Perhaps that gives context to my one and only tattoo - Donne-Moi La Verite - "Give Me Truth," in my beloved French. It was an uncharacteristically rash decision on my 21st birthday, and I'll admit there was a bit of liquid courage involved, but I've never regretted it. It's true. I want the truth - with all of its cracks and ugliness - hard and fast. Doesn't matter how bad it is. I only like sugar coating on frosted mini wheats (bumper sticker, anyone?).

And this is why I'm not the best at cheerleading. But - listen up - sister has her spanky shorts on, folks. Sister is warming up the old vocal chords and twirling the baton at lightening speeds. And by the time I'm finished, this team will have WON the game, the finals, STATE, and, hell, maybe we'll be the first imaginary team to make it to the gosh-darn Super Bowl. 

V-I-C-T-O-R-Y Vince Lombardi wrote our battle cry: "I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious."

Now THAT is something I can get behind.

Because sometimes you have no other choice. Sometimes you're the only one in the stands and you're facing great loss. Victory seems impossible with seconds left on the clock. The team - your team, your everything - is looking to you for reassurance, for support, for encouragement. Sometimes, magically, life finds a way of drawing the RAH out of you. Sometimes the RAH is the only way to get through it - despite all of your own worries, and fears, and struggles, despite your trembling hands. You feel yourself beginning to lean into the pain of it all, finding that buried belief you knew was always there. With each RAH, you feel your words sparking movement, forward motion, and - before you know it - your speed is picking up. You've taken the hits and made your way back to your feet - you're moving again.

So, go team, etc. And in the immortal words of best-ever Friday Night Lights: Clear eyes - Full hearts - Can't lose.

Take 'em to church, Coach.


ThatJessie said...

I wish I could write like you. You melt my heart. Love.

SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

I am so not the cheerleader, even though I was, in fact, a cheerleader to meet boys but that's neither here nor there.

I have a hard time in that role but it's one I find myself in from time to time. I'm not comfortable there but I try.