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[00:00:00]

Hi, everybody, it's Rachel Hollis, I have a new show called, Well, The Rachel Hall's show playing now only on Kibbie What's Quitte. It's a brand new streaming platform that brings new content to you every single day. It's great. It's wrote, it's great twice. So it must be really, really good. And you can download it now on the App Store. The cut.

[00:00:26]

The cut, cut, cut. The cut. The cut that was just telling everybody there right in front of me, but my coronaviruses hobby is going to be I'm going to become a beekeeper. Well, Runcorn team already bought my book about beekeeping.

[00:00:46]

Yeah.

[00:00:47]

Actually, this is a recording from March 9th when I every Tollman flew across the country to come visit the offices of New York magazine to audition to be the host of this podcast. That's when I met Stella Bagby, the editor in chief of The Cut, and we went to the studio to see what our chemistry would be like.

[00:01:05]

And I bought the beekeepers Bible. I've been joking about it the other day, like, you know, be like a really good name for a honey company is like Bug Bees AIPA, you know. So then I was like, what would it take to make honey in Brooklyn?

[00:01:19]

I didn't know Stella, my potential new boss, and I couldn't tell if she was joking or not.

[00:01:25]

I mean, we were all just kind of hesitantly laughing in the face of the future, even as we were slapping on hand sanitizer and conspicuously not touching our faces.

[00:01:32]

Sure, I couldn't shake Stella's hand, but I was hopped up on imagination.

[00:01:37]

I'd been reading New York magazine all my life, and the Cut is one of my favorite places on the Internet. So I was just starstruck. I fantasized about working for the cut. I imagined myself breezing into the office in a fabulous coat and big earrings, clutching one of those Greek diner style paper coffee cups.

[00:01:56]

It all just seemed so glamorous and New York. And there was such exciting energy swirling around that day. I visited the office in March.

[00:02:05]

Everyone was planning for the April issue of the cut and it looked like it was going to be a really fun one.

[00:02:12]

The cover story was going to be a profile of Ladarius Marshall from the Netflix documentary series Chir. I'm not normally very up on TV, but I was really into cheer, so I was relieved. Stella and I had something to talk about.

[00:02:24]

You are a freaking Navarro cheerleader privilege.

[00:02:28]

If you haven't watched Chir, it's this multipart Netflix documentary series about this elite cheerleading squad based in Corsicana, Texas. At this junior college called Novarro, Ladarius Marshall is arguably the most talented of the boys on the team and he knew it. He could come off as a bit of a diva, but you root for him anyway.

[00:02:47]

I've been saying I've been better than everybody since I was born.

[00:02:50]

Ladarius is just so captivating and charismatic on the show, and the Cut had nabbed his first ever big cover shoot. And it turned out Ladarius was a natural at it. It's like he could be a model actor.

[00:03:03]

He could go post Entertainment Tonight.

[00:03:06]

Adrian Green is a senior editor at The Cut who was working on the Ladarius cover story. 20/20 was going to be Ladarius last year cheering with Novara college, and we were all so excited to see what would be next for him.

[00:03:19]

You know, like there there's so much glitz and glamour that kind of like surrounds him wherever he goes.

[00:03:25]

That day I visited the offices of the cut. All the writers were infected with the cheerleading spirit. Just amped up on this profile. I remember nervously sitting in a conference room with Stella and seeing out of the corner of my eye that all the writers for the cut were laughing and trying on these genuine Novarro College cheerleader bows.

[00:03:44]

Yeah, I remember a group of us put on our bows and walked into a meeting and people were like, oh, there they go, cut people doing cut stuff again.

[00:03:54]

I was excited to meet all the cut writers that day in March, but I didn't get to. And that's because that day, around 3:00 p.m., an email rippled through the office like a horror movie. I don't know what the company email actually said because I was not an employee then. But the message was something along the lines of go home and don't come back.

[00:04:17]

Suddenly, everyone was grabbing their jackets and racing towards the doors and rows of cubicles emptied before me and I was like, what is happening?

[00:04:27]

I left so quickly that I left a single air pod on my desk.

[00:04:34]

Still a bug fled the office, not unlike Cinderella.

[00:04:37]

Yeah, I left in a hurry. I don't even know what else I left on my desk.

[00:04:42]

I wonder if all those cheerleading bows are still sitting there on the writer's desks. A forlorn memento of a joyous time before.

[00:04:50]

Like, it never occurred to me that we would be still. We would be launching this podcast, and that would be the only time we ever met. That's really inconceivable to me. Of course, it was inconceivable to me to. I just remember being in shock, getting expelled out into the street and in the space of a few minutes, all our joking about beekeeping was suddenly ridiculous.

[00:05:21]

I think there's a lot of pressure to project a sense of positivity when you're talking to another person. Nobody really wants to be around someone who is like a Debbie Downer type. And I mean, I knew I'm sure on some level I wasn't really going to become a beekeeper. It just seemed really funny to think of that happening.

[00:05:43]

I mean, funny, sure. But under capitalism, positivity also means productivity.

[00:05:49]

Optimism also means optimizing for all the talk about using the shelter in place, time to learn Spanish or bake bread or read war and peace or get into beekeeping.

[00:06:01]

I don't think that was the reality for most of us. I mean.

[00:06:08]

I don't know, I like a sense of delusion, I guess would be the right word in the age of pandemic, the adjective optimistic has actually become a euphemism for delusional. I mean, that is the way it's used on the news as a polite synonym for unlikely.

[00:06:26]

And President Trump, he and health professionals are optimistic.

[00:06:30]

I think 12 to 18 months is extremely optimistic, not going to be nearly as easy an economic recovery as an optimistic market wants to presume at this point. In a weird way, optimism's started to mean its very opposite. It reminded me of this old joke where a pessimist says, well, things couldn't get any worse and an optimist says, well, sure they could.

[00:06:53]

But that's the question. Is optimism saying it could get worse or that it could get better?

[00:06:59]

That's sportswriter Jordan Carns. They just so happen to be my neighbor in Oakland, California, and also one of the only people I interacted with in quarantine life lock down together in our neighborhood, unable to see our other friends, unable to hug each other. We started talking a lot about the show Chir.

[00:07:18]

I can't imagine the future, which is, you know, like who can write? And so I'm watching this documentary and I'm just thinking about, like, how they're doing these things with their bodies in the pyramid that, like, I could never imagine entier.

[00:07:34]

It's not just waving pom poms. The Novarro College cheerleaders are doing inconceivable things with their bodies, like flipping 360 degrees in the air and landing in a tent made of their teammates arms. It's like gymnastics meets dance meets nothing I've ever seen before.

[00:07:53]

And so I just was thinking about, like their ability to execute this thing that I couldn't imagine while I was also, like, not being able to imagine my future. And I was just like, damn, that's optimism.

[00:08:08]

Show cheer is optimism incarnate, but not just in a way that means productivity or superficiality or denial.

[00:08:17]

It's really a show about how multifaceted optimism truly is.

[00:08:23]

I think when we think of optimism, we think of like the cheerleader and up with like a huge bow in her hair and like that's like this like hyperbolic image of optimism, which is like not how most people feel any given day. And it turns out that's not how the cheerleaders on the Novarro College team feel either.

[00:08:42]

Now, there's less stereotypes that go with cheerleading. People think that we're dumb blondes, people think that we just do like cheers, like a team, stuff like that, but we actually put our bodies in a lot of pain in sport is all about having this veneer of like optimism and effortlessness.

[00:09:05]

Adrian Green, again, who edited the profile of Ladarius for the cut.

[00:09:09]

It's a grueling sport. It's like people fall in arms, thwacking like a lot of really intense and grueling movement.

[00:09:20]

Squeeze your butt.

[00:09:23]

One is crazy what we do, if you think about it, like whoever thought of taking two people and a back spot and chucking someone into the air and see how many times they can spend, how many times they can flip.

[00:09:35]

That person is psychotic. But, yeah, I'm the crazy person because I'm the one that does it.

[00:09:41]

And even as the cheerleaders are smiling ear to ear popping their chins up, raising their arms and victorious glee, they're in real danger at all times. At any instant, a horrific injury can break the spell.

[00:10:01]

Oh, my God.

[00:10:05]

It's excruciating to watch them practice. The cheerleaders are constantly breaking bones and falling from stories up in the air. Their joints are being dislocated, their ribs are getting cracked.

[00:10:18]

There are understudies waiting on the sidelines for when someone on the team inevitably gets too injured to practice anymore.

[00:10:27]

Be prepared to step in at any time, at any spot, start out, get a break.

[00:10:31]

This is a part of what their optimism means. Sacrifice. Which is kind of at odds with the definition I had for optimism, I thought optimism or pessimism for that matter, was about how you envision the future. The future will be good or the future will be bad. But another definition of optimism is actually about the present, whatever pain and suffering, anxiety and uncertainty that you might be feeling, none of our emotions lasts forever. And that's true of these more negative ones as well.

[00:11:02]

That's Emily Esfahani Smith who wrote The Power of Meaning Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with happiness. And she redefined optimism for me as an explanatory style.

[00:11:14]

A way to make sense of pain, telling yourself that this is a challenge, not a threat, or asking yourself, you know, are there opportunities and what I'm going through for me to learn and to grow, to deepen my relationships, things like that.

[00:11:31]

Because life is suffering, it just is bad things happen. And optimism is a matter of how you frame your role in that suffering. It's the narrative you tell that allows you to move forward.

[00:11:48]

And one thing this research points out is that the redemptive story has been used by oppressed people for ages to kind of help them make sense of their experiences and give them hope. Whether it's, you know, the Jews during biblical times or African-Americans during the civil rights movement, both groups kind of deliberately and consciously told these redemptive stories of moving from bondage to liberation.

[00:12:19]

In this way, optimism is a tool of survival. And you can hear the cheerleaders on cheer from their lives this way all the time. They are constantly giving each other pep talks like here's one of Ladarius psyching up the team.

[00:12:33]

Without everybody coming together, we're going to fail and we're going to fall. But as long as we're all together and we're helping each other, we're going to rise and we're going to get where we need to go.

[00:12:46]

And a lot of these pep talks definitely sound like platitudes, but the thing is, they work. So much of optimism is a mind game, and that's part of why optimism is a more complicated, expansive emotion than we give it credit for.

[00:13:03]

It requires labor.

[00:13:05]

Optimists have a capacity to both acknowledge the difficulty of what's going on while also being able to find some good in it.

[00:13:19]

They acknowledge the horror of what's happening. But even so, there's something about the way their mind works that allows them to still see hope and find meaning in the.

[00:13:39]

Optimism, Emily Esfahani, Smith argues, is not about delusion or denial. Optimists are able to see the reality and simultaneously believe the badness is not for naught. They can find meaning in their pain. And this is easier to learn to do if you were raised being told that you are empowered and that you are the hero of your own story in this way, optimism to degree is a privilege. But not exclusively, so many of the cheerleaders on cheer came from really hard childhoods, including Ladarius, in that time, the abuse that I endured was just so much.

[00:14:29]

I really felt like I was really alone, that there was nobody that was going to come save me, that I was I was going to literally just die. For Ladarius and for so many of the cheerleaders on the team, optimism is the cognitive equivalent of spinning 360 degrees in the air and landing. On one hand, they train like hell for it.

[00:14:50]

They're talking themselves up all the time, no matter who you are, once you're a part of this program, if you need something somewhere in the world, there will be a person that has been a part of this program and they can help you out. Once you're a part of the family, you're just an. Their optimism comes from their belief that the pain is worth the support they've found in each other, that the pain is proof to themselves, that they can do impossible, unimaginable feats.

[00:15:19]

They're telling themselves that they are growing from their suffering.

[00:15:23]

They have to. Because all their labor an effort leads to just one moment every year, there's a big cheer competition in Daytona Beach where the teams from across the country come to perform their cheer routine, that one ridiculously elaborate routine that they have rehearsed day after day, hour after hour through so much pain, all so they can be in this one competition for two minutes and 15 seconds.

[00:16:00]

That's it, you have one chance to do that, one or two and one little mistake and just close it off. Worse, if you mess up, that was your only chance. You just wasted your whole year. It is gut wrenching.

[00:16:14]

There's no professional cheerleading after that. There's no career waiting for them. I mean, there's like the Dallas Cowboys, but they don't do the acrobatics that college chair does. They're essentially two different sports. And the Novarro College cheerleaders aren't kidding themselves. They know that the labor and the pain of practice is so much longer and so much more than those two and a half minutes of relative glory at Daytona.

[00:16:39]

When we go to Daytona, no one cares. I was like, literally no one cares. But, you know, it's our job watching the show.

[00:16:49]

It broke my heart to think that it's the cheerleaders job to get everyone else excited about all the other sports. And then no one cares about their own world of athleticism, as my writer friend Jordan puts it.

[00:17:02]

I mean, cheerleading is like the invisible labor. The cheerleaders have to find meaning in the process, in the larger lessons they're learning and the community they're finding, because the tangible payoffs of cheerleading are so minute and fleeting.

[00:17:20]

Especially now in 2020, Daytona was supposed to be in April, it was supposed to be the grand finale for Ladarius Chir career, and then it becomes like, how do you start to think about your future when the moment that was supposed to be like your ten minutes to stand in the sun isn't there anymore?

[00:17:44]

It's wild to know that we all had canceled Daytona's of our own in 2020. Things are looking forward to and banking on and ways we thought this year was going to be different and they just went away. When I was looking for a sublet in Brooklyn, I wanted to make extra sure it had a walk in closet not to house my collection of fabulous new coats like I been dreaming of, because I know that's where I'm going to be recording this podcast for the foreseeable future.

[00:18:14]

Everyone is kind of like stuck in this limbo of like there was supposed to be some magic in this year and now there's not. And what do I do about it? And who better to ask than a cheerleader? After the break, we check back in with Ladarius Marshall long after the cut cover came and went after Chir stopped filming and after Daytona was canceled. What now? It's Rachel Hollas again, do you need some tips on life solutions to everyday problems, just someone to hang with.

[00:18:50]

I'm your girl on the Rachel Hall Show, which you can watch only on Weibe. We cover topics like smashing through procrastination, getting rid of self-doubt and how to make the best pull apart bread. We're talking cheese, mounds of it. Everything we talk about on the show is geared to help motivate you to be your best self. That's what we want. And we're going to get there. First of all, I'm so sorry about the Tona. Oh, I'm all right.

[00:19:27]

It's OK. We got to move on from and move past it.

[00:19:30]

I mean, can I ask how you found out it was there some big announcement from the team? Yeah, it was our coach.

[00:19:38]

She put us all into the.

[00:19:41]

Into our basketball stadium, and she had told us all there so that we won't be able to continue with our season due to cover, everybody was crying, especially the third year I was just in and I was like, girl, your new cover to cover everything, you know, they have to shut us down.

[00:20:02]

Are we just not visible in Superman? I told them there will now be a season. I tried to warn them we have to be positive. And that girl, this is a disease that they don't have a cure for. We have the like.

[00:20:14]

What does that mean, being positive about it? Like what did that mean? I guess they were looking out like we wanted to season and continue thinking like Gerner. We was not going to continue in our season.

[00:20:25]

So how are you finding optimism now? Because when I like it's funny, around the same time you were finding out about Daytona, I was at the offices of the court looking at your photo shoot and we were all like, oh, my God, what's he going to do?

[00:20:40]

Is he going to, like, host Entertainment Tonight? Is he going to be in movies? It just seemed like this was going to be I mean, not saying it's not your year, but we're all like, ready for it to be a year. Like, what do you what do you make of it now? I'm still going to college.

[00:20:54]

I'm going to college here in Mississippi. And I've decided even like all this stuff, I was like, I'm sitting here because at first I was getting myself a little down. I was like, you know what? I'm a little sad. Because I'm like, I didn't get to finish my season and what's next? And so then I was like, you know what? Since everything in the world is shut down because of me, just like I was the girl, I was ready to be on the tube on the road.

[00:21:19]

I was ready to go. And I was like, you know, I've got to I've got to find something, something different, something new to inspire me. So I did. I found out that I really like radiology. So I'm going to be doing a radiology program to get my degree in that.

[00:21:37]

I mean, did you first start, like, talking to radiologists because of your injuries?

[00:21:43]

Oh, yes, because I hurt my fingers and I wanted to see what was wrong with them. But, you know, black people don't go to the hospital and see what to die.

[00:21:50]

So we decided I was like, you know, honestly, if I could just check my own fingers, then it wouldn't be a problem. And that's when the whole thing started turning in my head like. So I you know, honestly, I won't go into that field because that's that seems like fun to me.

[00:22:08]

And it was during quarantine when I decided that because I want something that's going to be a staple in this world, because you can't get credit, you can't get rid of doctors and stuff like that, maybe they're going nowhere. We always, always need them. Always, because if you ain't got no doctors, are we all just thought we might as well go ahead and fight our death certificate. How do you do that magic thing you learn to do?

[00:22:33]

How do you turn your because you've experienced some like. Really bad stuff in your life, and you've still been able to turn it around. How do you think other people can learn to do that? I feel like you can learn how to do that when you take it for what it is. You look at the issue for just that, an issue, an inconvenience. So it's always thinking about what is going to make me the happiest because the world is just going to be the world.

[00:22:57]

Maybe do what makes you happy. If people if people don't understand, if your job is making you happy, quit your man and make you happy. Leave your woman and make you happy. Leave you everyone is worth more than that. Do not subject yourself to giving a corporation or something so much of your time. And while they get to sit down and they get to go visit their family, they are the big dogs, they get to go do all that stuff that you can't do.

[00:23:27]

You have to work on the holidays. They don't. Oh, my God.

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Ladarius, are you down for the revolution? Is this a free for all? I'm tired. I want the world to be good. I want the world to be something worth it. If you if there's a thousand people and there's two bosses who has more power, even though somebody has more money, the people that raise your baby, I promise you, when you start voting these people out and you start making sure the right people are in place. Then I promise you, the world is going to be just a little even if it makes a small percent of a change, is going to be enough for the world to see.

[00:24:08]

And you think it'll happen, like, are you optimistic about that baby if everybody stay as mad as they were there? Yes, they will. There's no reason that Brianna Taylor's killers, murderers should still be free. And I don't care. And I said it. How do you walk into somebody else's house and you kill them when they haven't done a single thing wrong? And the most you can do is, oh, is the wrong person. No apology, no arrest, no nothing.

[00:24:37]

But how do we square that circle, like how can we find, like there's so much to be mad about, like the world is so unfair and the idea that we're supposed to be able to, like, try to find optimism or like try to believe that everything happens for a reason, when Brianna Taylor's murder so clearly was for no reason, like, how are we supposed to find the good when there's so much bad?

[00:24:59]

Let me tell you this right here. This is how I do it. I found myself when this whole black lives matter started happening, I was like, you know what, the world really is corrupt. We got the people out here killing each other in the military. We got Brianna's killer still out here killing her for no reason. We got George Florida out here dying over 20 dollars. And I just sit there and sometimes I really be like they really just hate people nowadays, like the world is so, you know, and then I keep thinking those people are going to get what's coming to them.

[00:25:34]

That's how I stay optimistic because we may not be able to see it. But what God is going to do. Hmm, I always I use God all the time, I say everything happens for a reason. If he saw fit for us to go and do that and do Novarro and do dates on it, then it would have been that. But what he did not see fit. And it wasn't just one thing that was cancel. Everybody's thing was canceled.

[00:26:01]

He didn't see fit for anybody to be doing what they were supposed to be doing. Maybe that was meant to happen. Maybe that was saving us from something that could have been way worse.

[00:26:09]

It just like I don't have faith like you have, and I'm so envious that you do. Like, I wish I could put my faith in God or something like God. But like for people who don't have God to lean on, how can we find optimism right now?

[00:26:24]

Girl, you know, look, I want you to find your spiritual. I want you to find out what makes you happy. Like, think of something that's pure, whether it's a baby or an elderly person. And I want you to think of. How happy that person makes you and I want you to think of where your life is going to go, where your life is going to be, because when you survive this, like you've survived everything else, you're going to be better out than thinking, oh, I hate the word, hate the word, because the world will always have corruptness.

[00:26:54]

Like, it's never going to completely wash away and change, so when you go into life and you're like, you know what, I understand this is bad right now, but I understand it and there will be change if not today. Or tomorrow it'll happen. Whether happen when I'm alive or it happens in the next generation or the next generation, it's going happen. So that's where I feel like that's where most of my optimism comes from, because when I think of things in the future, my girl won't even get to that point.

[00:27:27]

So then I was like, you know what? We're going to be happy about what we have right now. It feels impossible to try to imagine the future for myself in this new job at the Cut and my new life in the new New York City and in this nation and in this world, it's like what Jordan said about watching the Novara cheerleaders form pyramids with their bodies. Optimism looks like it's trying to reach for an unimaginable thing. But what Ladarius exemplifies is that realism and optimism don't preclude each other.

[00:28:02]

In some ways. They buttress each other. They help make significance in what we're all going through now, because that's all life is right. We're all just going through it, trying to figure out what it all means. And that's what we're going to do here on this show every week. Make meaning of all this stuff good and bad. I'm really, really happy to be here. And I'm glad you're here to. Bob Parker is our show's lead producer, production and editorial support from Allison Barrenger.

[00:28:41]

This episode was engineered and scored by Brandon McFarland, who also composed our theme song, special thanks to Corrine's Cadenas and Sangita Sing. Kurts, Stella Begbie and Nashat Kawa are the show's executive producers.

[00:28:55]

I'm every woman and thank you for listening.

[00:29:05]

OK, ladies and the boys, it's Rachel Hollis, I'm here again to help you find more joy and give you the motivation to live your best life, check out new episodes of The Rachel Hall's show playing now only on Quitte. That's spelled QIP. And if you download the app now, you'll get a two week free trial. All you have to do is just tap, tap, tap, boom and you're there. Amazing. No more procrastination. You can do it.

[00:29:36]

OK, I'll see you there. Have a great day.