an essay dedicated to my friend Norma on her birthday August 17, 2018
There are certain people in this world who are cheerleaders. I’m not talking about the pom-pom shaking, short-skirt, pyramid-building type that might come to mind. I'm not even talking about the extroverted ESFJ type described by Myers Briggs. The kind of cheerleaders in my life lean slightly more toward the "I" on the extrovert/introvert scale, but I call them cheerleaders anyway. You might be lucky enough to have one in your own life.
It’s not clear whether cheerleaders are born or made. I personally see cheerleaders in adulthood as among the noblest of people. They can be male or female. Their whole purpose in life seems to be to uplift and elevate. You can identify a true cheerleader by certain characteristics:
- Everyone wants a cheerleader at his or her celebration. A cheerleader walks around a party with an aura of shimmering glitter and when the aura interacts with your own, you find yourself smiling at everything.
- Most people assume you’d need a cheerleader during the low points in your life. Paradoxically, a cheerleader shines the most when you experience success! Success itself cries out to be shared with a person who is genuinely happy for your accomplishment. Cheerleaders are rare in this quality. They are devoid of envy, equivocation, judgment. A cheerleader in adulthood cannot relate to those characteristics because they simply are not in his or her psyche. A cheerleader operates under a “one for all and all for one” Three Musketeers paradigm, and your personal success is celebrated by a cheerleader in the purest sense.
- A cheerleader is perhaps the most altruistic of all personality types – a selfless giver. A gift from a cheerleader friend is one that required thought and preparation. It is unique and creative and reaches you on some level “where you live”.
- Cheerleaders take time to make everything special whether a holiday celebration or a gathering around a campfire. They always have something ready to offer to company whenever people show up. They look for new ideas and creative ways to make things festive and memorable for special occasions. "Memorable" is an important word for cheerleaders. They work to create those memories and take great joy in reliving them while always on the move to the next creative memory moment.
- Contrary to most beliefs, a cheerleader can actually fall under the "I" category of the Myers Briggs. If it were easy to bolster everyone up, more people would do it. But cheer-leading requires energy and requires several innate skills. Cheer leading requires keen observation and attention to detail. A cheerleader understands the game. He or she watches more closely than others and notices details. A cheerleader has a great sense of timing and would be the first to notice a player in distress on the bench and the first to come to his rescue.
- Cheerleaders not only have observational skills, but are the best of listeners. They effortlessly remember the names and ages of people in the stories you tell not based on some 50s over-the-fence gossipy agenda, but because of a natural inclination to be sincerely interested in what you’re saying. Because cheerleaders are equal-opportunity friends, and because the world tends to gravitate to them in droves, their “work in the world” can be exhausting.
All of this is not to say that cheerleaders themselves don’t have fun. They tend to be the most capable of any of us to have a good time. Laughter comes easily to a cheerleader, and they seem to be open to a variety of social situations. While it may seem that cheerleaders might love a spontaneous party, the fact that they put great effort in their interactions, tends to make them more amenable to events that are planned a bit ahead of time.
If your friend is a cheerleader, you are eager to introduce him or her to others in your life because being associated with a cheerleader gives you a sort of credibility for your good judgment. You especially want your adult children to meet your cheerleader friend because it makes them proud that you’re associated with such a joyous person and that association helps your adult children worry less about you.
It’s a gift to be a cheerleader in life, a gift to be able to give joy. Whether by nature or nurture, they ascribe to all that most religions define as virtuous. It's important to recognize that being uplifting and supportive, fun and attentive is hard work and all cheerleader types need our appreciation.
As much as we might like, not all of us can be cheerleaders in life. We each have a bit of cheerleader in us and no matter what personality type we are, we can do what all self-actualizing people strive to do. We can listen and learn from the masters. Cheerleaders are masters at living outside of themselves. In analyzing what makes a cheerleader so endearing we can take a piece of those qualities, imitate some of those virtues, incorporate them in our own life and get ready for a really good time.