On this part of the world, I’ve only ever had one typical picture of what a cheerleader is like.
Bubbly. Smiley. Happy. Over-confident. Super-popular. Very rarely do their own homework. Everybody wants to be near them or with them or – well, them.
And if you don’t fit the mould, you don’t belong.
And they’ll let you know it – just go for the Jugular and they never let you forget it.
You can’t be any other version of yourself because you’re a cheerleader.
Or at least, that’s how I’ve always seen it, as that’s the way it’s always been shown to me.
So I suppose you can’t be sad and morbid if you’re leading cheers then. And you can’t look like you punch people for fun. Or like you’re a linebacker.
Which is basically what I look like.
So you probably wouldn’t expect someone who looks like that to be saving the lives of tiny humans – and that’s what I do for a living.
I am not an optimist. I am not even a realist.
I don’t carry sunshine in my pocket and the kicker is – it took me a good year to like my job.
And another four to begin thawing the ice around my loathing of the profession.
But I couldn’t readily show the rest of the team that I was a part of, all these feelings. It was so much easier to put a picture to the irritation that I had for this particular profession – my boss – and throw proverbial darts at it.
And that was how I got through my days.
Lots and lots of days –
Of waking up early fourteen days of the month and putting on the metaphorical Hero Hat and showing up to put my super-powers to use.
Trying hard to cheat death on behalf of these tiny humans who came out of their mother’s bodies, unready to cope with the world just yet. It’s not the smartest thing to do in the world then, is it, to go into such a profession with a negative mind set.
I earn my keep by quite literally holding the world’s potential in my hands, doing my best to ensure that I give that future a fighting chance at life.
Sure, I don’t cut open these fragile bodies and I don’t prescribe the medication – or anything else for that matter – but when the doctors aren’t there, I am. When the mothers cannot be there to remind these little people that they aren’t alone, we are.
I am a Neonatal Nurse.
My job is to make it easier for newborns to transition from intrauterine life, to life in this world of bright lights and noise and cold temperatures and brutality.
Sure, it’s only for a few hours that baby stays with us in our unit, but we try our best to make it the best few hours so that baby can paint us a clear picture of where her vitals are at.
Will she get better and go back to her mama?
Will she show us how difficult is is for her to cope – show us that she needs a bit more time?
Sometimes, neither of these things are that obvious – sometimes, you need an eye for them to be made obvious.
And all the time, you can’t function at your best if you’re being pissed at the universe for putting you in this place that you hate.
You cannot frown while you’re leading cheers either, lol!
It’s the faces and the shouting and the general enthusiasm that make it fun to watch, right? When they’re on the stage being thrown in the air, flipping all over the place like it’s an effortless task, you almost wana get up and clap right along with them because they make it look that awesome, haha!
So frowning about it and screaming like you’re pissed at the world would defeat the purpose of the ‘cheer’ in cheerleader.
It’s the same thing in every profession.
If I were to handle these newborns like they stood no chance, they wouldn’t thrive. If I were to approach their parents with a dour expression on my face, they would think straight that their baby was dead or something.
I can’t imagine what they would think if I came to them with an angry face and presented their baby to them, saying, “She’s fine now. Take care of her. Good luck.”
They wouldn’t believe me – I know they wouldn’t.
I come across tons of parents who don’t understand my language, whose language I don’t understand.
So my best shot, is to show them my face and show them what baby is doing, so they can get some idea of what is happening until such a time that somebody can translate it all for them to understand.
So even if some idiot broke my heart the night before, I will smile and make baby open her eyes and move around a bit to give her parents hope and proof of life.
Even if I just won the lottery and my life is spectacular, I will empathize with her parents and let them know that baby doesn’t look too good.
Almost all the time, it’s a mask.
Almost all the time, it’s about the people watching me and not about me.
ALWAYS, it’s about this nameless baby in my hands and NOT EVEN REMOTELY about me.
I’m rooting for the little baby in my hands, even when I’m hating the fact that I’m in the profession. Even when I’m writing dark and twisty poetry and staring into my own future with an absolute lack of optimism.
Where they’re chanting for their schools and their states, I’m urging little baby to survive with words of encouragement.
Where they’re clapping and dancing, working the crowd, I’m making sure baby is alive, making sure she knows I’m there – the warmth of another human hand will do.
And when they’re smiling to make the world wana smile too – heck, so am I, for the loved ones of this baby.
I am a cheerleader of a different kind and aren’t we all?