This meme has stayed with me. The message “Be Who You Needed When You Were Younger” can mean so many things. For example, does it mean to be the parent I needed when I was younger, or does it mean to be the teacher that I needed when I was younger? Does it mean to be the friend I needed when I was younger? It can mean all of those things. What I also love about the message is that it means different things for everyone who reads it. I had wonderful parents, grandparents, teachers, and much more growing up. I never lacked the adult support I needed as a child and later teen. That said, no one is perfect. There are gaps and holes due to the fact that we are all individuals. If I took a few minutes, I could easily come up with ideas as to what that meme means to me specifically. I love the idea that by cultivating those areas one will be in a better position to help children and teens like ourselves. That is largely why I am going back to school to earn my teaching certificate: I care about teenagers and want to help them succeed. By taking the time to figure out what we were missing growing up, it is easier to discover what children and teens today might need.
I also can’t help but relate this to a conversation I had with a friend yesterday. She and I discussed how we tend to box ourselves into the many roles we play in our lives. For example, when I am at work, I act a certain way. When I am at home, I act another. Neither is truly my authentic self. She asks the question why can’t we be consistent? What is stopping us? For her, this means juggling the roles of mom, pastor, wife, and writer. Oddly enough, this made me realize just how soon my roles will change. Soon I will be business owner, teacher, and hopefully, mom. While I will remain a writer, I will no longer primarily identify as a student.
As I thought more about this topic, this appears to be more of an issue for women than men. Let’s face it: Our society still expects women to do it all, or at least try to do it all. There isn’t nearly as much pressure for men to be perfect parents, look a certain way, or create a home. It is sad, but I still see so many women act surprised when men are wonderful, involved dads to their children. It should be expected, not treated as something rare. By the way, I know so many wonderful dads. It isn’t rare. What doesn’t exist is a man or a woman who can do everything well all at the same time. There are, and have to be, trade-offs. Choose wisely.
I am lucky – damn lucky. Most people don’t get the opportunity to do it all over again. Over the last few years, I’ve taken the opportunity to figure out exactly what I want, made decisions on how it will all fit together, and pursued those new goals with everything I have. I am not there yet, but I am well on my way. I am grateful that I’ve had such wonderful role models, namely my parents.