You probably don’t know this, but I’m a secret cheerleader.
No, I don’t mean that I own pom-poms or can whip out a back handspring on command.
What I mean is that you – yes, you! – you, reading this blog; you, my Facebook friend whom I haven’t seen IRL in a decade; you, the person I met at a conference; you, my ex-colleague; you, my old neighbor; you, my former teacher; you, my best friend’s mom; you, the fitness instructor I follow on Instagram; you, the aunt who lives out-of-state; you, the fangirl on Twitter who shares my passions; you, the guy who was kind enough to sit next to the new girl on the bus in middle school; you, my long-lost college roommate; you, the random acquaintance . . . YES, YOU! I have been secretly cheering you on for years.
Thanks to social media, I’ve been privileged enough to watch the progression of your life, or at least what you share of it online.
I’ve seen you get your heart broken and get engaged. I’ve watched as you have had children, lost parents, traveled, bought houses, gotten advanced degrees, and quit school to pursue your dreams. I’ve paid attention as you’ve trained for marathons and discovered new hobbies; earned promotions and changed careers; uprooted your lives and moved across the country; been in accidents and struggled with incredible tragedies. I’ve read your statuses, glimpsed your photos, but most of all, I have been quietly cheering you on.
I don’t mean to freak you out, or to sound like some kind of crazy stalker. I’m not, I promise. (Yes, OK, so I do occasionally run a few background checks on my friends’ blind dates, but that’s different!) What I mean is that whenever I’m casually scrolling through social media and your content pops up, it reminds me that I’m rooting for you.
Sometimes I’ve had enough coffee and I like your posts, wish you congratulations, and comment on your profile pictures to tell you that I love that color on you. Every once in a while I’m really on top of my game and I sponsor your fundraiser or I send you some recommended restaurants and activities for your upcoming vacation. But 99% of the time, I’m silent.
There is always an excuse: I’m busy, I’m tired, it’s weird to randomly comment on a post from someone I hardly talk to or barely know anymore; it probably wouldn’t matter to you anyway.
But I want you to know that it matters to me. Your happiness, your successes, the things that may seem trivial: pictures of your cat and your food and your car and your kids and your hotdog legs at the beach, all make me smile.
I’m never going to be your best friend, nor should I be. I probably won’t even remember to wish you a happy birthday. I won’t be the person you call when you need a ride to the airport, or when you want to grab drinks on a Friday night. At some point you may abandon social media, or an algorithm will change, and I won’t know what’s going on in your life anymore.
But until then, I will be quietly cheering you on. You will pop up on my computer screen on the most random occassions, and I will wish you well, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. When you share that something good has happened to you, please know that I am giving my imaginary pom-poms a shake. And when life is kicking you when you’re already down, please know that I am rooting for you to kick it back . . . hard!
Perhaps I’ll get better at being a more overt than covert cheerleader (wouldn’t it be awesome if we were all a bit more outwardly encouraging?!), but even if I don’t, I want you to know that somewhere in the world there’s a 5′ 7″, overly caffeinated, blonde, nerdy, millennial who’s cheering for you simply because she can.
Keep doing great things, Random Internet Friends. This secret cheerleader will always be ready with some celebratory emojis.
*Main imaga via Pexels