Her pom-poms are perfectly placed. Her bow is beautiful in her brand new beauty salon hair. Her uniform turns her into a magazine-ready midget model and she smiles sweetly every time the camera captures her.
About mid-game, she moves from formation to the bench. “What’s wrong?” Coach-mom asks. “You’re doing so good! You are so cute out there!”
“I’m cute…but…I’m not…satisfied.”
The words come with conviction. I know it’s the truth.
My nine year-old is the most expressive and unique child. We call her quirk. She loves putting on her sunglasses and pretending she’s a rock star named James Q. Jackson – Michael’s brother of course. She has whole conversations with her clothing, her stuffed animals, her altar egos, and her feet. She actually has a foot phone wherein she puts her foot to her ear and talks, generally about her other foot and his bad behavior. There is no one quite like Addie.
I’m cute but I’m not satisfied. Now that’s profound. She has somehow managed to put into words the way beautiful women feel most of their lives. She has successfully described the end result of an appearance-driven culture as felt in the hearts of its objects.
There’s a lot I could say about that statement and how young girls and young women are viewed. I think we all know what I’m talking about. But I want to examine another issue – an issue related to what I believe my bow-bearing brought to life Barbie was really feeling.
Addie was tired. She stays up reading when everyone else goes to bed. She is my hardcore sleeper-inner. She is a gamer who knows more about how to fix my computer and phone issues than the employees at the apple store. She gets so excited about fishing that she begins to babble in her own language when she catches one. She doesn’t like to get up on Saturday morning to go practice cheer-leading. This particular day, we had practice followed by the game. She’d simply had enough.
Enough fake smiling when she wasn’t happy. Enough cheer-leading when she needed resting. Enough skirt when all she wanted was sweats. Enough jumping and shouting when she needed quiet and peace. Enough pretty pretend when she wanted not so pretty real. Enough real game time when she needed more practice. Enough encouraging a team she did not know when she needed a family she did. Enough place she felt uncomfortable when all she wanted was to sit in her favorite spot and be Addie…or James…or Hazel…or whichever personality made her happy at that moment. All she knew was that bow-bearing Barbie wasn’t working. Not today. Maybe not ever.
The truth is that Addie is young. She doesn’t know who she is yet. She doesn’t even know who she wants to be. All she knows is how she feels when she does that which she is not particularly predisposed for. And that is ok! Nothing makes me madder than when I see parents obligating children to do that which they are not geared for.
From beautiful women to tired teeny-boppers, no one wants to feel like the sun total of their existence is what is on the outside. Not one of us can live our lives as though how we are feeling on the inside does not matter. Oh, we can ignore it for a long, lost, and losing time, but eventually we will sit down. It will likely happen mid-game. We will sit down, lay down, fall down, or just be down because we were not made to prioritize pretend personalities.
Addie has pretend personalities because some of her real ones feel pretend to her. She is uncomfortable, like a fish out of water, and she doesn’t know how to make herself “satisfied” when she is asked to be what she is not.
I try to give a variety of opportunities for my daughters to become well-rounded individuals. I try to introduce them to as many things as I can so that they can find their niche and truly be satisfied in their own skin. I want nothing more than for them to be exactly who they are.
I want to be exactly who I am. We all do. Who wants to be who they’re not? By all appearances, we can pull off the pretend and be as cute as the day is long but if we settle for superficial, we will never, ever be deeply and wholly satisfied. Little wonder why so many people are unhappy in life when the majority do not seek to do that which affords them the time and the space to be and do what they were made for.
God created us to be unique, inwardly satisfied individuals. Don’t ever let outward achievement and admirable appearances take the place of inner peace. Take the job you enjoy for less money. Have children before you have the extra room for them. Get married before you can pay for a wedding. Don’t get married even if you already ordered the invitations. Volunteer. Work less hours to invest in other things. Work more hours to get to where you want to go. Get up early so you can pray. Ask God who He created you to be. Go back to school. Quit school. Join a team. Quit the team. Do not settle for being anyone other than you. Be exactly who you are and be unashamed of it.
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” ~John Piper