“You’re going to be somebody someday!”
Do you know how many times I heard those exact words growing up? All well-intended, of course. Words meaning to encourage me and to show me how much someone believed in my talent. But now as a mother and three months shy of my 40th birthday, I honestly wish I’d never been paid such compliments.
You may be thinking…‘What are you talking about!?’ Let me explain.
Like most people in the entertainment industry I started at a young age. I was seven years old when I booked my first modeling job and became a working professional. I was following the path that I seemed “destined” for. In my eyes that path was stardom. I had big dreams of being famous and someone of importance. Of being in movies and being on stage, singing and dancing in front of millions of people. So, when people responded positively to my efforts and said things like, ‘You’re going to be somebody someday,’ I ate it up.
Throughout my career, by God’s grace, I have been blessed to do some pretty cool things, but there was always this tiny, little voice inside me whispering, ‘The things you’ve done are still not enough to be considered “somebody.”’
Growing up, I didn’t understand what a profound impact these words would have on my life, but now I see it. Somehow, my innocent, naive heart internalized those words and they were etched deeply into my mind. Only until I “made it” (whatever that meant) would I matter. Only until I did something to knock the socks off of the world would I count and be somebody. The qualities that I possessed as a person were not enough. I had to do something to establish my importance.
Now I cherish the ability to be in the moment and enjoy opportunities as they come. But throughout my career, because I was so focused on how each job was going to take me to the next level, I can honestly say, I very rarely enjoyed myself. Sad. You can’t take back once in a lifetime experiences and relive them.
It’s taken me a looooooong time (but better late than never!!) to understand that I am enough.
With God’s help through scripture, prayer, books, counseling, and age, I’ve come to understand that my identity, my self-worth, my significance are not based on accomplishments and recognition. I am not my past, present or future career. I am more than my achievements.
There is nothing wrong in wanting to succeed and do well in life. We all want to be loved and approved and rewarded with recognition. We’re human. I get it. But those things can’t be the foundation of our significance and self-worth.
I’m not just talking about the entertainment industry. Yes, it’s sometimes seen as the most obvious one when it comes to fame etc., but this pertains to all careers and all areas of life that we mistakenly base our identity on….what we do instead of who we are as individuals.
Now, as a mother of a 2 1/2 year old little girl (I’m praying that she can’t carry a tune or act her way out of a bag), I see how valuable it is to nurture her character. To focus on and help her understand that all the sweet, precious qualities (and sassy, stubborn ones too) that God has instilled in her, is enough….that she is already “somebody” now at 2 1/2 years old, regardless of her list of accomplishments to come….that she matters now and does not have to be what the world would consider a huge success in order to be important.
Parents, grandparents, teachers, mentors, etc., encourage character development. Yes, we need to give praise for accomplishments, but it needs to be done with discretion. It’s important that we not instill in them that this is where their importance is found….that they are only as good as their latest achievement.
In an age of “American Idol” and “The Voice,” it’s critical that we don’t encourage children to dream about being famous. Fame should not be the goal. Our society tells us the more success and the more fame we have, the more happy we will be. Really? Many rich and famous people take their own lives regardless of their fame and fortune.
Nurture dreams of being famous and you will eventually find unhappy, dissatisfied, and discontented adults. First hand experience here.
Encourage them to discover what gifts and characteristics they’ve been given and show them how to use those gifts to help others. Teach them to cherish and be pleased with how God has created them so that they don't need approval from outside sources to make them feel like they matter.
I’ve not worked in the entertainment industry in about four years now and it’s been life-giving. Pretty ironic being that I’d traveled the world and performed in places some may never get to experience. But now, as I do the mundane, day-to-day activities…I actually live and enjoy life.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’ve worked. I’ve been a full-time mom and let me tell you, I have worked harder than I ever have on any set or stage or recording studio I’ve set foot in. And I humbly and painfully confess, when I used to believe my worth and identify were based on my accomplishments, I couldn’t imagine finding fulfillment in being a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t believe it was a “big” enough or “significant” enough a job. No kudos from kiddos spitting up on you. I know, I know. Moms out there…please forgive me. But now I know better. There is nothing more important and more significant than what I’m doing right now. And I’m grateful for our little blessing.
Psalm 139:13-17 from the Bible says, “I praise you (God) because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be…”
You don’t have to impress anyone else because you are already “wonderfully made” in God’s eyes. You don’t have to be famous to be important. You don’t have to do big things to be relevant. You just need to be you. You are enough…and I am enough.