When teams come down and meet me and Lizzi and hear our story, their responses are usually the same:
“Wow! You must really have your life together.”
“You’re so mature to be doing this.”
“You’re a great role model.”
“That baby is the cutest thing to ever grace this planet.”
Ok, so the last one wasn’t really relevant to what I’m blogging, but still, it’s true. So, why would I possibly have a problem with hearing this? Kaylie, they’re compliments! COMPLIMENTS! Ain’t nobody gonna be mad at being complimented. Yes, ok, I know that. But every time I hear them it makes me cringe inside. Let me explain why.
I am not a role model. I do not have my life together. I am not mature. When I hear these comments it’s hard for me to bite my tongue and take them because I know they’re misconceptions. Let me get this point straight – I’m not trying to bash myself. I’m not fishing for compliments here. I’m telling you the cold, hard truth. When I first thought about taking Lizzi into my house, oh wait, hold on, that never happened. I never thought it through! Or at least if I did it lasted about two seconds. I got asked, “Can you take care of a baby?” and my answer was “Sure.” Mind you, at this point I didn’t know how to make formula, or burp a baby, and the yesterday before that day I had put a baby’s diaper on backwards. I had taken another person’s life and given a “sure” because I’m terrible at thinking things through. Does that sound mature or responsible to you? Absolutely not. But, at the same time, I’d like to give a big ol’ shout to God for using my extremely irresponsible nature for his use and making a phenomenal situation out of it. You go God.
Next, I do not have my life together. At all. In any way shape or form. I moved to Honduras as soon as I graduated High School with no future planning whatsoever. I do think a part of the reason I moved here was to run away (again with the irresponsibility), but most of the reason was because I felt a calling. But let’s reflect for a moment. I am nineteen, with only a High School degree, with a baby, totally unsure of what I’m going to eat for dinner in an hour. I have nothing together. My life is madness. Absolute madness. But once again, Thank God for making my life so fluid because it’s led to me becoming a really great mother to a really great kid.
Lastly, ladies and gentlemen, role models. I’ve had them, you’ve had them, and we’ve all claimed that Oprah Winfrey is one of them. But here’s the problem with role models. They’re positively unrealistic. They’re exalting a normal, human person and putting them to Godly standards. Your daughters should not want to grow up to be like me one day. God made me to be one of kind, and if anyone else tries to be like me, they’ll probably end up being stuck in one big, immature and irresponsible mess. Most people are not meant to be a teen mom in a third world country. Does that mean you can’t be one? Absolutely not. Most people are also not meant to be brain surgeons, or accountants, or businessman, etc. I’m sure there are plenty of young woman who could be a much better “me” than me! However, I don’t think you should encourage your daughters into it.
The problem with role models is that they make us want to change who we are. They make us want to act a certain way, do a certain thing, and look a certain way. They make us hold ourselves to standards that they don’t even hold themselves to, and they make us feel ashamed when we don’t reach them. While, yes, we should appreciate and admire people who achieve greatness (COUGH Oprah COUGH), we shouldn’t strive to be them. It’s just not healthy. Comparing ourselves to a role model only ends in self-destruction. We should strive to be ourselves, and if our purpose aligns with the people we admire – then awesome! If it doesn’t – then awesome! There’s no point in striving to be someone else when you’re already an amazing creation yourself.
There’s also a problem in the way we glorify role models, especially celebrity role models. We build them up, almost like idols, and hold them to standards no less than perfection. And when they mess up? Our worlds come crashing down. We start doubting our own capabilities, and in extreme cases start losing hope in all of humanity. We shouldn’t look up to anyone, because everyone is on the same level. We all have our own imperfections, we all mess up. There’s a clear difference between respect/admiration, and glorification.
I hope I didn’t fully discourage anyone from complimenting me anymore, trust me I deeply appreciate every compliment I get. I need that encouragement to lift me up every time I start to doubt myself. But I do want everyone to know that I am a mess, I’m not perfect. Your college student is doing just as awesomely in life if not more awesomely than I am. Different callings do not deserve different levels of praise. Thank you for your compliments, and thank you for also keeping up with my random rants. You guys are the best :).