1. Natives – Those who are at home with the changes in culture and society.
2. Immigrants – Those who feel like foreigners in this world of change.
Leonard Sweet brought up this idea years ago and I believe he’s right. In my blog yesterday, I gave you 4 questions to ask yourself to recognize if you are a native or an immigrant.
Today, I’d like to share the other side of the coin: The need to be who you are.
I came across a story recently that illustrates this point brilliantly. With flowing blonde hair and hourglass figures, Janet and Jane Cunliffe look like twins. But they are not. In fact, they’re not even sisters. They are mother and daughter. Janet is fifty-years-old and confessed to spending over $10,000 on plastic surgery in a desperate attempt to bridge the 22-year gap between herself and her daughter. I can’t help but wonder if this is another depressing indictment of today’s youth obsessed culture. So many are “Karaoke Parents” who want to be cool like our kids, sound like our kids, even look like our kids. Janet recently said, “I wanted to look like my daughter… who wouldn’t want to look like her?” Later she acknowledged, “I just needed a helping hand to make me feel better about myself.”
May I respond?
Believe it or not, I understand. I recently turned 51. I wish I looked better than I do. But if I need to become young again to feel good about myself — something is wrong with me. If I cannot embrace the life station I am in, and serve up the wisdom I’ve learned over the years to younger generations — I am missing the point of life. Let me be blunt. Students have told me how they laugh at adults who try to act like them. To reach them we need to understand there’s something worse than being “uncool.” It’s being “unreal.” The best thing we can do as we lead the next generation is to be authentic. The word “authentic” is taken from the word “to author.” It means writing our own story, not pretending to be someone else. If you’re a 45-year-old mom, be that mom and be the best mother you can be. Kids will love you for it. If you are a 35-year-old youth pastor or a 50-year-old faculty member — embrace it. You won’t have to act or pose, and best of all — people will love your genuine spirit.
So, immigrants… admit you’re an immigrant, but work to keep learning and growing. Those who know you want you to stop pretending and enjoy the life station you are in. Just be the best version of “you.”