When we are young and impressionable, we are easily fascinated by everything and anything we see. Cool new fads and gadgets, the latest trends, the ways and means of how our schoolyard companions play, talk and act. We idolize everything we see, if even for a moment, because we are still trying to build and identify ourselves. We want so badly to have an identity, a way of communicating our thoughts, ideals, and goals, that we will grasp at anything in order to be socially acceptable. We are confused and unstable; one minute our favorite color is pink, next it is blue.
One minute we want to be Britney Spears, the next Christina Aguilera. As we go through the changes in identity, we take small pieces of each experience with us, resulting in a complex and unique individual person, personality, and history. We learn what we like; and what we don’t. We learn what works for us, and what we’re not quite so good at. We discover our strengths and weaknesses, and over time, we fall into a “category” that best suits our personality. We find like-minded friends, and begin to pursue interests promoted within our social group, such as competitive people becoming athletes and working hard to become the best in their sport, for example. It is in our youth that we are shaped into who we shall become in the future. When you are young, you need the “training wheels” of life to help guide you in the right direction, like parents, teachers, mentors, and family who are a positive influence on you.
But as you get older, and hopefully more mature, it is crucial that you begin to take the reins of your life and map out your own path, for your own sake. You must take off the training wheels, and feel the pride of being able to hold yourself afloat. Knowing right from wrong with mom standing over you, doing the right thing when no one is looking. Those are the moments that help define us as mature adults, and we continue to learn and grow from those experiences as we mature.
But now more than ever, more people would rather be a follower, and let the actions of others develop their personality and ethics, than be a leader and develop a set of goals, ideals, and morals for themselves. They still have a young mentality and look to celebrities and reality shows, TV and movies, to guide them in their real life pursuits. But it makes no sense; and our generation is suffering tremendously for it.
The biggest problem with being a follower is that those that you are following are not emotionally invested in the outcome of your life, that you are coincidentally shaping around their behavior. That person that you are following blindly is not looking back to see the repercussions of your idolatry of them.
A great example that I will use is Rihanna. Yes, she’s a celebrity, but many young women shape their behavior around this woman, her personal life and her music, for what reason I know not. But back to BadGal RiRi. What do we know about her? She’s famous, beautiful and dramatic. She smokes weed. She has tattoos. She’s rather promiscuous, and is proud of it. She’s in and out of her emotionally and physically abusive relationship with bad boy Chris Brown. And her “Navy?” Worship the ground she walks on. Repeat her song lyrics and apply them to their lives. Dress like her. Talk like her. Sing, “Ain’t nobody bidness…” about their own toxic relationships. Post cute black & white weed photos on IG, just like their leader Rihanna.
But do you know what the problem is here? Rihanna is a multi-millionaire entertainer whose job it is to be wild and outrageous and keep her name in the tabloids. Obviously, the cops aren’t checkin’ RiRi for marijuana possession because she woulda BEEN locked up. But what happens when you get caught with it? You’ll be going straight to jail, and “…but Rihanna does it!” will not be an acceptable defense.
We have to start coming to terms with the fact that we must be not only responsible for our actions, but be strong enough to develop our OWN sense of right and wrong. Set standards for ourselves. Just because celebrities sleep with everyone on the block does not mean that you have to. Just because everyone in your family is an alcoholic doesn’t mean that you have to follow down the same path. Just because everyone in your neighborhood prides themselves on taking advantage of the governmental benefits system doesn’t mean that you have to set your own personal growth bar that low.
Hold you head up, and realize your own worth and potential. I know this sounds crazy and counterintuitive, but the media and these pseudo-celebrities that they crank out like K. Michelle and NeNe Leakes and whoever else is on those shows are meant to keep you down. To keep your mentality in the gutter. To stop you from wanting the best for yourself. To make you idolize material things, and lose focus on spiritual things. And even though you sit at home, scoffing at their pitiful personal drama, you will slowly but surely begin to mimic their behavior, their colloquialisms, and their lifestyle.
I know we all have our “crosses to bear,” and everyone’s life is different. We all want different things, and have different sights set for ourselves. But let your vision be yours; not somebody else’s. When it’s all said and done, and the smoke clears, you’ll regret not having the strength to live your own life instead of blindly following behind someone else’s. Be your own beautiful, smart, unique, talented self, and make the best of it! The sky is the limit, don’t let the TV, or the media, or your boyfriend, or your friends, or your family, or anything else stop you from being the best self that you can be.
I Want to Know:
- Would you agree with me?
- Why do you think being a follower seems so easy to some and not others?
- What advice would you give someone who wanted to be a follower?
- Share your own experience.