I have never identified with or particularly cared for either the universal image or concept of a cheerleader. In fact, I will go on the record for having rolled my eyes numerous times when peers and colleagues alike made the admission that they were in fact once a cheerleader. Guh, cue the puking now! When I think of cheerleaders I think of vapid, superficial, trifling individuals motivated only by the need for popularity and validation of their physical attractiveness from the masses. I guess all those 80’s and 90’s high school movies with their neatly packaged archetypes of “typical teenagers”, such as jock, cheerleader, nerd, outsider, etc., that I devoured in my youth didn’t help…
But my dislike went further than just the universal image of a typical cheerleader. You know, the blonde, buxom, bubbly, and brain-dead one we’ve seen embodied in countless movies and television shows:
I also derided the concept behind cheerleading. Being a very athletic youngster, I always kind of thought “Why not get in the game instead of jumping around uselessly like a twerp?” I saw no value, dignity, or sense in the activity of cheering. Surely a strong, independent, and fierce woman would strive to engage in activities in which she found meaning and which didn’t allow her physical being to be actively objectified by others? This was a very serious concern in my formative tween/teen years.
But recently I’ve been reconsidering the idea of cheerleading…
I know that some workplace environments can get pretty brutal. I’ve heard from people about their experiences and have survived a pretty bad one myself at the old gig. The fucking emotional highs and lows that can rattle the office on an hourly basis are boggling. One minute someone is smiling and laughing like a totally normal person, then the next thing you know it’s like a scene from the exorcist! Instead of all the green puke though, it’s just a steady stream of negativity, tantrums, sulking, complaining, and madness. Sounds pretty brutal right?
It is brutal. It’s particularly painful for me because I strive to be positive and light in the workplace at all times. I don’t always succeed. Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments of venting frustration too. That’s right! I don’t purport to be some incarnation of the perfect, model employee… But generally, I try to shove any negative emotions I’m feeling when at work deep down inside myself. Other people really don’t want to engage in all of your emotional bullshit when they’re at work. That’s what your personal life is for. The work self should be pleasant and positive and a joy to be around. The personal self can be whatever the hell it wants to.
My cardinal workplace rule is: just be pleasant. When someone is having a hard go of it, toss them a silver lining. Smile. Have sympathy and compassion for others, but don’t fuel the flames of their negativity inferno by tossing more negativity into it.
Everything you do in the workplace impacts others, whether you realize it or not. D had this chick at his work sitting at a desk near his and she would bitch allllllll day long to some of the other co-workers. She was constantly bitching, griping, complaining, and moaning about something. It was a relentless stream of crap day in and day out emanating from her workspace. Her bitching got on D’s nerves so bad that he considered asking his superior to relocate him to another corner of the office. When he told me stories about her, he called her The Bitch. I don’t even know what her real name is, she’s simply The Bitch to us. The day came that she was finally quitting and D was elated. He said it was the best day of his work life by far.
So when you’re a big steamy pile of negative bullshit in the workplace, people notice. They avoid being around you as much as they can. You get unfortunate nicknames you never knew you had. While your moment of bitching might feel like just a moment to you, to others it could feel like a lifetime. Be considerate and think about how your bullshit affects others and how it could potentially damage your future with the company. Nobody wants to offer promotions and mad wads of cash to bitchy, whiny dickbags!
This is where I start to make my point with this post. I have yet to completely segregate my emotional self from my professional self in the workplace. I strive to all the time. I believe that great maturity comes from mastering one’s negative emotions. You know, instead of freaking the fuck out when something happens and alienating your co-workers, you find a way to work through your frustration and you bounce back. But this task is more daunting for some than for others, which is where cheering comes into play.
I realized that while I don’t wiggle around chanting ridiculous rhymes for my co-workers when they lose their lustre, I do cheer for them. I smile, try to diffuse the tension with some jokes when necessary, offer positive words, and try to point out the silver lining. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not. And when I’m in a bad way, I’m thankful that I have someone at the office who sees the value in cheering for me when I need it.
Take all of the flashy, narcissistic bullshit away from cheerleaders, and what do you have? Positive people offering their support. Whether the team is winning or losing the cheerleaders are there to encourage and support their team. And really, that’s what I’m doing with this blog. I’m cheering for the little things that make the day shine instead of stink. I’m out there cheering for team Good Vibes everyday! (Note to self: If I’m lucky enough to develop a group of cultish followers of this blog I shall dub them my Good Vibes, and we will conquer the world!!)
Every office needs a cheerleader. Someone who can make those blah days a little better. Someone to offer a boost of confidence and fun once in a while. Just someone to smile at you when you’re feeling blue. And now that I’ve thought about it a bit, I’m happy to take up those metaphorical pom poms in the name of good workplace cheer.
Hey, check it out! Who knew this feisty little tomboy had a cheerleader stifled deep down inside of her this whole time?