Don’t Put People on Pedestals

My Post (68)

I’ve had a tendency my entire life to put people—usually celebrities—on pedestals. Most notably, I did this with Taylor Swift as a teenager—and, to be honest, I still do. I still find myself making excuses or defending actions I probably wouldn’t agree with if it weren’t her doing it.

I tend to do this with people whom I see are standing out from the crowd and, in my opinion, are serving as positive role models. The problem is that I then hold these celebrities to standards they can’t possibly live up to, and then I’m disappointed when they let me down.

I found myself going down the same familiar path this weekend. My husband and I saw Twenty One Pilots perform last week, and we’ve been listening to them non-stop ever since. I’ve always liked their music, but outside of having their songs on my Spotify playlists and what friends who liked the band had shared, I didn’t know much about the band itself.

As I researched more about Twenty One Pilots, I found myself falling into my familiar traps. God forbid I found something I didn’t agree with or something I was uncertain about in their lyrics or in a quote from an interview with the band members.

I put these poor celebrities on pedestals that they cannot always stay on. I hold them to standards that they can’t possibly meet. They’re just people, and people make mistakes. People have different backstories and different ways of thinking.

I cannot expect an artist only to release songs that I relate to or that have messages I agree with. I cannot expect Taylor Swift never to change as a person and continue writing fairytale country songs. I cannot expect that Twenty One Pilots’ religious references in their works won’t include doubts or misgivings—shouldn’t we, instead, applaud them for being honest about something most Christians feel at one time or another?

I do this with the people in my life, too. My entire life, I’ve held myself to strict standards, and when other people fail to meet my standards, I can be judgmental. That’s not fair. That’s not right.

For one thing, I can’t even meet my own standards, so how can others? Human beings are flawed, and the more quickly we learn to love and embrace others even when they let us down, the less disappointment we have to live with in our lives.

I finally had to accept that Taylor Swift and I, while perhaps at one time similar, are living very different lives. I have to accept that sometimes my friends and I will not see eye to eye. I have to accept that things are not always—in fact, most likely are not—going to go the way I think they should.

And that’s actually quite great. Because I certainly do not have enough answers to be able to dictate how my life or the people in it should behave.

Don’t put people—celebrities or not—on pedestals. No one is perfect. No one will always meet your expectations.

Just love people.

Just Like We Shouldn’t Slut-Shame, We Shouldn’t Virgin-Shame


Listen, I wasn’t in the “cool” circles when I was in high school, and everyone’s experiences are different, but when I was in high school less than 10 years ago, slut-shaming didn’t seem to be a thing anymore.


Sure, even in my AP circles, there were rumors about if a couple had “taken it to the next level,” but I don’t think anyone was shamed for that—just gossiped about as a couple in a wistful or grossed-out tone. Again, everyone has different experiences, so if you were slut-shamed in high school (or ever), I’m truly sorry, and I don’t mean to belittle that.

When I was in school, though, and what I definitely see happening in society as a whole now, is a new trend that shames virgins. It seems like, as a society, we tend to shame whichever group is the minority. For a while, it was girls who slept around, and then as that became more common, now it’s virgins who are shamed.  

And, if anything, it’s not just girls that experience this, but it might even affect guys even more so. There seems to be some bizarre macho-man pressure on them that they have to be sexually active by a certain age, which is so sad because everyone is different. Not to mention different religions have much more conservative beliefs about such things.

When I was in high school, there was a girl who came off as more “worldly,” shall we say. I have no clue if she was actually sexually active, but boy did she like to make jokes and comments that insinuated that she knew about such things.

She must have picked up on my innocence because she liked to try to get me to admit that I knew what she was talking about. One time I joked as if I did get her reference (that actually went way over my head), and I regretted it horribly afterward. I just wanted her to leave me alone!

When I started dating a guy in our class, she made multiple comments that made me unbelievably uncomfortable. She also tended to have a tone that pitied my boyfriend because we were not physically wherever she thought we should be. She was shocked that we hadn’t kissed, and when our class was accidentally exposed to a naked Juliet’s chest during a viewing of Romeo and Juliet, she made jokes that it was something my boyfriend hadn’t seen in real life yet.

It was really hurtful, and as you can imagine, the comments did not help the relationship I was in. While the guy and I ended up breaking up for lots of reasons, at the time, I blamed her quite a bit.

I don’t know why she felt the need to be so invested in our relationship. Maybe she thought she was helping, but it was nosy, inappropriate, and just downright judgmental. I might not have agreed with her relationship choices, but I would never have criticized her or belittled her in front of anyone, let alone her boyfriend and an ENTIRE classroom full of people!

Regardless of the choices you make or how you feel about them, do not put people down for making decisions that are different than yours.

Virgins shouldn’t think they’re better than those who choose to be sexually active (after all, especially if you’re abstaining for religious reasons, we all sin. We all fall short. We all mess up). Sexually active folks shouldn’t look down on virgins or pressure them to change their views.

Be loving. Be kind. Stop shaming people for making different choices than you. Let’s stop finding a minority to attack and show love, grace, and kindness instead of being critical.








 

You Don’t Know What Others Are Going Through: Be Kind

Sad girl in hammock. You Don't Know What Others Are Going Through
*Sigh.* So, I really wanted to like the new Netflix movie
Sierra Burgess Is a Loser. It looked so endearing and starred Barb from Stranger Things and the loveable guy from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. By all accounts, it should have been amazing, but about halfway through the film, I had to turn it off due to my rising anxiety levels, second-hand embarrassment, and pure horror that one of the scenes included a character being misled about whom he was kissing with his eyes shut. (Consent, guys. Consent.)

One of my initial issues with the movie was that the stereotypical mean popular girl was over-the-top cruel to her classmates—she was the type of cruel that had me thinking, “Did these screenwriters ever attend high school or just watch movies about it?”

Thankfully, the screenwriters did explain the character’s behavior with a fleshed-out background featuring a hectic home life and pressures from her mother to be perfect.

It’s an important lesson that, though it seems to be pounded in our heads incessantly in film and books, I tend to easily forget: You never know what others are going through.

I can be a am a judgmental person. I’m trying to be better, but more often than naught, I let my thoughts get away from me, so these next few paragraphs are as much for me as they are for anyone reading this.

Once again, you never know what someone else is going through. That person who cut you off on the freeway might be rushing home in the midst of a family emergency. That person at work who put you down in front of your boss might be dealing with job insecurity. Your friend who made a snide comment about your outfit might be feeling left out.

We should, of course, stand up for ourselves, but instead of responding in anger or defensiveness, take a moment to think about what the offender may have going on his or her life.

Sometimes things we take offense to may not even be intended to be taken as an insult.

I’ll never forget, one time in junior high, my friend pulled up her hooded jacket in a really cute way, and I said something like, “Aw! You look just like a little mouse peeking out of a hole!”

She got really upset, and our friends who witnessed it all asked me why I would say that.

While I looked like the biggest jerk in the world, I had only made that statement because my father had said it to me a few days earlier, and I had thought it was really sweet. When he said it, it had come off extremely endearing. Obviously, it had not come off that way when I repeated it.

And there’s the kicker: Not only should we be mindful of what offenders may be going through, but we should also be mindful of what anyone we are around may be going through. Something we say without thinking could be harmless to us but could scar the person we’re speaking to for life.

We’re all bound to make mistakes in this department, but be mindful, be caring, be understanding, and, above all, be quick to forgive.

God knows I’ve certainly cut off my fair share of people on the freeway, hurt people’s feelings, and just been a downright unpleasant human being.

The least I can do is extend the same grace that I hope others are giving me.

Not Killing People with Kindness


Most of us have probably heard the expression “just kill them with kindness,” but I don’t really like that expression, mainly because of the word “kill.” I think I would prefer it to be something like “just show people love, no matter what.”

It’s highly possible that I’m overthinking a small expression that’s probably simply supposed to mean killing the meanness until it becomes ineffective or causes mean people actually to be nice, but I like to spin it to make it more positive—I mean, if you’re going to claim to be kind, go all the way in.

I think genuine kindness isn’t shown as often as it should be, and the only people who can change that are people. If someone is trailing you on the way into a building, it doesn’t take much time (maybe two or three seconds) to hold the door so that it doesn’t slam in the individual’s face. I promise it won’t make you any later than you already are or any more on time than you were going to be. Two or three seconds don’t have that much impact on tardiness.

But they have heavy impact on how you can make others feel.

There are a tremendous amount of opportunities in every single minute of every single day to show people kindness. Yes, it does become more difficult when others are rude or downright evil toward you or someone you truly care about, but that doesn’t make it necessary for you to act the same way. This is when the whole “loving people no matter what” comes into play.

Don’t try to kill a person with kindness—try to love him or her with it, instead.

There have been instances in my life in which I’ve been treated badly, and I can’t say that I’ve always responded in the best ways possible. Let’s be real here, shall we? Being nice is really challenging at times. It’s much easier to throw every ounce of kindness you think you might have out the window and say what’s really on your mind.

What I’ve learned, though, is that when you let your heart be transformed by love, those mean thoughts won’t last very long, and you’ll realize that the mean things that people say to you often have nothing to do with you at all. The mistreatment that you receive is likely the result of someone else going through something trying and painful, and you just happen to be getting the brunt of it all. No, that doesn’t make it justifiable, but perhaps it might give you a bit more empathy to extend love and grace rather than fire back with quick-witted and spiteful remarks.

They might be great burns that seem pretty clever, but they could also do more damage to a person who’s already in need of more love than you’ll ever know.

I faced a recent situation that gave me enough time for a choice: I could say what I was thinking (which certainly didn’t have kindness written all over it), or I could show that person the same amount of grace and mercy that God shows me every single day. Thankfully, I chose the latter, and I didn’t say what was on my mind—I said what was on my heart, instead.

I walked away feeling better than I would have if I had said something on an equal level as the other person, and I can only hope that the other person did, as well. As Cady Heron said during her epic mathletes moment, “calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier, calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter, and ruining Regina George’s life didn’t make [Cady] any happier.”

It doesn’t make you weak or cowardly not to fire back insults at someone or be mean to someone who’s mean to you. It’s brave to show love when it’s easier to show hate. It’s brave to love someone who seems almost unlovable. It’s brave to let love take over your heart and do the talking for you.

So don’t worry about killing people with kindness—just love them, and the kindness will come naturally.

Just Friends: Don’t Lead People On

My Post (23)I write the following words with conviction, as it’s something I’ve done. It’s something most of us have done.

You’re young; you worry about feeling loved and attractive. Will anybody ever like me? you think. And then someone does—only it’s not whom you wanted.

You let him down easy, or maybe you avoid letting him know how you feel at all, while still remaining friends, texting, and hanging out.

You may not even realize you’re doing it, but you might be leading him on. You might have unconsciously created a safety net—a guy you can hang on to in case you eventually decide you like him back.

Don’t get me wrong, guys do this, too. This is not a cruelty exclusive to girls, but it’s important that we recognize that we have the power to hurt guys as much as they have the power to hurt us. Sometimes in the midst of emotions and heartaches, it’s easy to get so lost in your own feelings that you forget about others’.

When I was young, I made that mistake. I knew that a guy friend had feelings for me—or at least had at one time—and, yes, I had told him I liked someone else, but I still did not put up enough boundaries. Under the premise of being “close friends,” I essentially allowed us to create a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship emotionally. We texted constantly. We hung out all of the time. All while he watched me pine for other guys.

Obviously, he could have created distance if he needed to, but I still think I had a responsibility there.

Later, when I actually did start dating someone, I essentially had to “break up” with him, as that boyfriend did not appreciate the constant texting between myself and the friend. You know why? Because he recognized what I didn’t at the time. It was COMPLETELY unhealthy and inappropriate.

And you know what else? It made what once was a meaningful friendship feel weird and distant. Listen, somewhere there is most definitely a middle ground where guys and girls CAN be just friends. I’m not one to necessarily preach on what that looks like, but I can tell you that you’ll know when you may need to set up some boundaries to spare either his or your feelings.

Don’t get so lost in your own feelings that you forget to look out for someone else’s. While it’s important to guard your own heart and protect it from heartbreak, it’s just as important that you recognize when you can harm someone else’s heart.

Preserve your friendships. Preserve others’ hearts.

It’s what you yourself would want.

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