By Katie Marshall
Do we have a word for second-hand pride? Not just when you’re proud of someone else for doing something, but something transcended, when you feel the pride the other person feels, when you get the chills and the almost-tears and the pumping heart they must have? When you love a group of people for loving something so much bigger than themselves, and certainly bigger than you. When your strings of empathy, support, and compassion braid into a thick rope of joy connecting you to someone else through their personal victories. When congratulations isn’t expected and yet doesn’t feel like enough. What can we call that?
I’m talking about that feeling you get when you overhear two native New Yorkers reminiscing about their hometown and though you don’t recognize the streets they mention you can see the big lights in your eyes. When you go to a concert of a band you don’t really know, and as the lights drop and the first song starts, the group in front of you links arms and scream with joy because this is their favorite band and their favorite song and you suddenly start smiling and then, without realizing it, you’re cheering for their cheers. Or when you’re 26 and single and a parent brags to you about their kid’s good grade or first play and you want to hug them – the parent, not the kid. When a group of die-hard fans start a rowdy cheer in the bar and even though you don’t care about the sport, you didn’t even see the game, you raise your beer to theirs and cheers them, because they did it, didn’t they? And as you celebrate them, you realize that’s what you’re truly doing – celebrating them. Their happiness inspires your own. Suddenly, you’re a part of it.
We humans can be at least, fickle, and at our worst, destructive, but in each of us lives an energy that desires nothing more than to celebrate the happiness of others. It’s why we love underdog stories. Why we honor the unsung hero. Why we read list-icles of “Random Acts of Kindness” and why we took and shared the secret, blurry picture of the kind act in the first place. Why someone else’s win can feel so much better than our own. Why we compliment others and high-five strangers and applaud each other when we accomplish something amazing, something beautiful.
Bravo! Bravo! You did it!
We may get jealous of each other. We may be cruel, unkind, and vengeful. Yes, we may destroy. But as long as a hopeful piece, desiring the best for others, for good lives for each other, for wonderful things to happen to each other, lives in each of us, we’ll be okay. Recognition is a vital human need. We need to be seen, but we desire to be appreciated. Imagine what could happen if we all did that for each other. Not only do I see you, but I am so happy that you are happy. Your joy adds to mine.
So go big today, okay? And if not today, than tomorrow, or soon. Do the things that your dreams are made of. Do the little things that you have to do. Either way, I’m rooting for you.
In the words of a man I wish I had known, “I wish you way more than luck.” -David Foster Wallace
Image: Jordan Hile