“Mom, you wanna know one thing I’d like for Christmas this year?”
“I want a [insert name of extremely expensive designer company] purse.”
“Ooooooooh, Honey, I’ve heard those handbags run over three hundred dollars. That’s too pricey for our budget. What if I can find one that looks almost the same and is really good quality but is a fraction of the price?”
“No, Mom. I’m really picky about purses, and all my friends have this particular one. It’s so cute! If I can’t have this one, I don’t want one at all.”
Even casual observers notice how teens and also older college-aged youth seem to have a rather rigid, unspoken dress code within the various groups on campus--whether it be Goth, Preppie, funky, or “Gangsta.” The colors, styles, and brands of their clothes are fairly strictly prescribed if they want to be “in” with the group. When massed together at a bus stop, it looks somewhat as if they’re all heading to a clone convention.
Too many people, adults included, are so afraid of being considered different, odd, or out of step with their peers that they are never brave enough to probe their hearts, exercise their own minds, or move in their individual talents and gifts. They are far too busy trying to fit in, be one of the crowd, please the popular and powerful. They are even willing to be false to their true beliefs and convictions and to let their gifts lie dormant if they are not in tune with the latest fads.
To me, a real “unsung hero” is someone who has the courage to be real—the unique-as-a-snowflake person they were created to be—in this world of often plastic people with their carbon-copy clothes, cars, philosophies, and lifestyles.
We have a natural desire to be liked, accepted, and praised, but this becomes a problem when it leads us to struggle to fit ourselves into someone else’s mold—a mold not made to accommodate us at all. Truly heroic people are those who take risks, accept challenges, brave criticism and even rejection in order to be true to who they really are. They are willing to speak up on behalf of truth and to speak out on behalf of the outcast and oppressed.
People in the arts often wrestle with this issue of recognition and approval. There is pressure to write, paint, sculpt, compose what mirrors a current craze—what is considered “hot.” Heroic artists are those who are brave enough to create what is in their soul instead of simply what will sell. They choose not to seek honors at the expense of honesty or public awards at the expense of personal integrity. Refusing to produce merely what is popular and lucrative, they choose rather to give birth to their heart’s passion.
When we can ask and at least partially answer the questions, “Who am I,” “What are my passions, talents, and convictions”; then we are on our way to becoming a truly intrepid life adventurer. When we are able to peer beneath our masks to the face we were born to wear, then we are ready to become a person of authenticity and deep substance. William Shakespeare so aptly puts it in the well-known quote from Hamlet: “This above all: to thine own self be true…thou cannot then be false to any man.”
To those of you with the “guts” to get real, high accolades and thundering applause are definitely in order!
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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