Who Are Your Cheerleaders?
I have big (some would say fantastical) dreams. I always have.
I didn't grow up with parents who were attorneys or physicians or engineers. The rural area where I lived wasn't full of academics or creatives. Gyms and sports were things for people who didn't have real work to do.
But I've always been an athlete. I've always written. I've been an artist since I could first hold a crayon. And I knew I'd be a doctor from the time I was six.
That's not to say that I'm a talented artist or have always written wonderful works, and I'm certainly not a great athlete. Nor have I ever been. I think most of the world has just humored me through the years with pacifying pats on the head. "Sure you'll be a doctor, honey. Why not..."
"Of course you can write, dear. Uh huh, somebody will love what you have to say."
"Well, isn't that a cute painting, sweetie," as they turn back to their conversation.
Then there was my family.
I could never even come close to describing to you how supportive my parents were or how their belief in me never wavered. I couldn’t possibly count the hours they spent carting me across the county for one sport or another. Nor could I count the times they told me I could be anything I decided I wanted to be. Neither of them batted an eyelash when I told them I wanted to go to a private university that cost more than either of them made in a year. They were that certain I’d get enough scholarships to go. And when I didn’t get into medical school the first time, Daddy thought it was because he had no clout, not because I was in some way inadequate. That is how much my parents believed in me.
When I was about 10 or 11 years old, my oldest brother bought me a computer--the kind that you could hook up to a TV for a monitor, the kind that you had to program to make it do anything. I'm talking before the internet, before the Commodore 64. At the time, he was in the Army and working with computers himself, and he believed I could be a great programmer. As I got older, he was my advocate with Mama and Daddy, often convincing them that I really was old enough or mature enough for one adventure or another. Now, he and I work at the same hospital, and he never fails to tell my coworkers that he's my brother, and he always does so with a distinct note of pride.
I went to undergrad two miles down the road from where my sister worked as an oncology nurse. My first year there I didn't have a laundromat in my dorm, so every Wednesday morning when she finished her twelve hour night shift, she would pick me up with my dirty laundry in tow, take me to breakfast at Cracker Barrel, and drop me back off at my dorm with my laundry that she had taken the week before--my now clean and folded laundry. She made sure I had dresses for homecoming dances and had my back for every decision I ever made—whether she agreed with it or not. She still does.
I have always idolized my sister. She was in nursing school when I was in kindergarten, and of course, that meant I wanted to be a nurse, too. I wanted to help people, and I wanted to be like my sister—being a nurse would be the natural progression of those aspirations. Even at that age, I was a voracious reader, and one day I was reading the story of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in the United States. I was no doubt nattering on about it to the younger of my two brothers when he looked at me and said with all seriousness, "You know you can be a doctor, too." And so it was. From that moment on I was to be a physician. And from that moment on, my entire family knew it to be so, and stated it as fact.
When I was about 13 years old, that stage when kids look like a bad version of Mr. Potato Head with features that seem to have all grown separately and limbs that don’t do what they’re told to do, I was lamenting my homeliness. That same brother, ever the tender hearted soul, told me, “You might not be the one all the boys look at now, but you’ll be a beautiful woman some day, and then they’ll look.”
Through our 22 years, my hunny has gotten behind every hair-brained scheme I have come up with. He has missed once-in-a-lifetime opportunities so that I might follow my dreams. He has dried my tears of frustration and cleaned up the messes of destruction left behind in the anger brought by failure. He knows me better than I know myself, and this six foot four bear of a man reads my poetry.
Whatever I have said I would do, these wonderful people have believed in and supported. They have cheered me from the sidelines, run interference, coached, and occasionally even carried me onto the field—or off of it to help me mend my wounds.
To hear from friends in the healthcare field that they trust my medical opinion or from friends who are artists that they enjoy a piece that I have created or from any friend that they in some way appreciated a bit of my writing or are looking forward to my next installment is sometimes that small push of support I need to keep going with these dreams of mine.
I am lucky enough to have a full squad of cheerleaders on my side. In turn, I want to always be a cheerleader. Mind you, I don’t want to feed delusions, and when asked, I will give honest feedback, but even that I will try to temper with love. I want to lift others up the way that so many have done for me. I want to be a force for good for the other dreamers. So you’ll see me “sharing” a fair number of pages or websites or blog posts from people I like, people I believe in.
Being a naysayer is easy. Life is hard, and the more we live of it, the more we see the obstacles in a dreamer’s way. I’d like to propose that it’s not our job to point those obstacles out. As friends and family, it’s our job to clear the path around them and cheer the runner along her race, maybe even coach a little along the way.
I am so thankful for each and every one of the cheerleaders in my life.
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Unless otherwise noted, all material--written, photographic, and artistic--is the original work of Estora Adams. All rights reserved.