Choosing to Cheer

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

I decided today, officially, I am going to be a cheerleader.

No, not the kind that wears a giant bow in her ponytail and a chants loudly while tossing her body through a series of flips and stunts (been there, done that).


No, not the obnoxiously catchy OMI song that is dancing through the car speakers of every mainstream American teenager. I’m talking about a different kind of cheerleader–someone who uplifts her peers and celebrates in the success of others.

I’m going to be honest–this isn’t always something that comes naturally to me. Whether it’s watching a friend navigate a party with more social ease than Jimmy Fallon, or even noticing an especially stunning profile picture radiating all of its gorgeousness across my timeline, joy isn’t always my gut reaction.

When I see dazzling photos of a friend on a fabulous vacation, my first thought is rarely “Wow, what a beautiful human! I’m so happy for her!”

It’s usually a threatened feeling that flashes across my brain, activating creaky gears that grind out a list of mental comparisons.

And sometimes it’s just a feeling of flat out annoyance (“Ugh her abs are perfect and her eyebrows are on point…she’s the worsttt“).

Unfortunately, this isn't my typical first reaction to someone's beauty/achievements

Unfortunately, this isn’t usually my 1st reaction

Why is it so hard for us to celebrate the success of others? I think it’s because sometimes when the spotlight shines on someone else during their time on stage, we get lost in the shadows of their moment rather than taking the time to provide them with applause.

Tonight I got a text from a friend. He had been offered the fabulous opportunity to take a job working for a large, successful corporation–a position he earned through years of odd jobs, volunteer work, and internships. He earned it; he had planted these goals years ago, and endured all of the growing pains it took to achieve them–and now here they were, blossoming right in front of his eyes.

I sent a text filled with an unholy amount of exclamation points and proceeded to congratulate and celebrate in his success. Even though I was happy, I have to admit that a small voice of comparison and faint feeling of irritation began to creep into my heart…so I paused–and I realized something.

This is not about me.

This is about my friend.

My worth is not compromised or challenged by the success of my friend.

I realized that this was a moment where I could choose to sulk in the shadows of my friend’s success, averting my eyes from the stage, or I could begin to clap my hands, slowly at first, until I genuinely grew to be enthusiastic, rising to a standing ovation of congratulations.

Even though it took a while, today I experienced genuine joy through celebrating my friend’s success; and that’s why I have decided, that from this moment forward, I  will choose to be a cheerleader.

So let’s choose to take our minds off of ourselves, and to give credit where credit is due. Let’s choose to celebrate in the success of others, and let’s uplift each other with an intensity of kind-hearted enthusiasm that only Leslie Knope could compete with.

leslie celebrating others


Kelly Doles


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