It’s a question I’m sure we’ve all been asked at some point. Often, it’s asked of young children in school writing assignments. It’s asked with such innocence and the idea of it being offensive is in itself offensive. But I’ll tell ya what. This question drives me bananas!
Even as a young child, this question bothered me, though I couldn’t really express why. I never did have an answer for it – at least not a genuine one. So what’s the question and what’s the big deal?
The question that drives me up the dang wall is, “So, who’s your idol?”
It makes me cringe just writing it! Here’s the thing, basically what we’re being fed is that who we already are is not good enough and that we should strive to be more like someone else. Barf. Now some of you may be thinking, oh, c’mon, it’s not that bad of a question. Some people’s answers may be really noble. I want to be like my great grandfather, who was a hero pilot in the war. I want to be like Mother Theresa, Terry Fox, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Stephen Hawking or Bill Gates. I’ll admit, there’s been a lot of amazing people on earth who have done a lot of incredible things. A lot of people pick celebrities as their idols. Those ones could be more easily debatable perhaps. Doesn’t matter. I don’t care who a person picks as their idol, I don’t like it!
The word idol, and the behavior one exhibits towards an idol is the concern I have. Some people have what I might call a “casual idol.” Someone whom you may admire what they’ve achieved and would like to strive for that yourself. Others have “hard core” idols. You love everything about them. You spend “time” with them daily, either listening to their music or teachings, researching them, learning about every aspect of their life including what was outside of the public eye. You may mirror their clothing, manner of speech and personal choices in your own life.
But what about being you? Doing you only? Why isn’t that good enough? You may have something in your future that is incredibly, beautifully, only you. Often, the summary of our life’s impact isn’t really understood until we’re gone. We’d be wise to admit, we may not realize how important and special we are. Only those that are living around us and after us may really get the full benefits of what we had to offer the world. But if you’re busy doing someone else you might get lost along the way. Maybe you’re thinking, that’s impossible. I can’t possibly be that special. But you don’t know! Even if you end up being incredibly special to one person, maybe that one person is going to be hugely impacted by you, and give birth to someone else that has incredible world-wide impact. And if you hadn’t been you none of that cause and effect may have happened! We just don’t know!
I’m not saying its bad to recognize and respect people’s achievements. I’m also not saying it’s bad to want to reach a similar achievement to what someone else has. But you have to do it with the rest of you intact.
Let’s compare ourselves to a cake for a moment. There’s basic ingredients that go into that cake. Flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder, vanilla, etc. You can have a vanilla cake made by 10 different people and each one tastes different. It can be easy to understand why. Perhaps one person used rice flour, one used brown flour and one used white flour. Someone used two eggs, another three and another used four eggs. One person used organic vanilla while another person didn’t. One change can make a big difference to the overall end product! It’s ok to “borrow ingredients” from other people’s lives – but make your cake your own. If you like what one person has achieved it’s ok to reach for that same goal. It’s ok to figure out how they reached that goal and add some of those same ingredients into how you plan on reaching that goal. But don’t imitate just one person’s “cake.” That person you’re looking to is still a human being. They’ve done some things right, they could have done other things better and they’ve done some things incredibly wrong. We’re all going to make mistakes along our path. They’re part of our ingredients and will make us who we are. They’re ok. We’re also going to have circumstances where we can do something “more right” than our idol did if we follow our own recipe instead of theirs. Those are the things we don’t want to leave behind. Be you!