One…two…three…smile for a selfie.
Aren’t selfies—photographic self-portraits—a curious phenomenon? Much has been written recently about the psychology of the selfie, and what our fascination with self-portraits says about us humans. My goal in this post isn’t to add my two cents to that conversation, but rather to offer a word of encouragement for those of you who sometimes feel hurt or left out because of today’s selfie/Instagram craze.
If you’ve ever felt left out or rejected when you see your groups of friends posting fun-filled selfies without you, please consider a couple of thoughts.
People aren’t always having as much fun as their selfies suggest. I recently heard about four young girls who were standing in line at a theme park, thoroughly engrossed in their respective smart phones. They were oblivious to one another, lost in their personal online worlds, when one of the girls suddenly said, “Hey, let’s take a selfie!” The other girls agreed, crowding together, and striking happy, laughing poses until the selfie was taken. Then they all checked the selfie to approve of how they looked, and then they separated and returned to their isolated smart phone viewing.
A carefully selected and posted selfie isn’t always an accurate representation of how much fun people are having without you. Sometimes they’re having more fun than the selfie suggests, but often they’re not. Selfies by nature capture a happy scene, but they say nothing about the accompanying drama and issues that could possibly be going on behind the scene.
Also, viewing other people’s selfies makes us forget about all of the times that we did fun things without them. Since posted selfies of friends highlight and immortalize the fact that our friends had fun without us, they tend to make us feel worse than we need to feel. Before the days of Facebook, Instagram, and selfies, we never had frame-by-frame updates about what our friends were doing without us, and we were just fine.
Now, however, when we see them having fun without us we can feel rejected, and that momentary sting makes us forget about all of the times when we did fun things without our friends. We’ve done tons of things without our friends, and we weren’t rejecting them. We were simply living life.
Let’s help our kids and young friends hold these things in perspective, and let’s make sure that our selfies and social media apps are tools that enhance our life without inflicting unnecessary hurt upon others or upon our own souls.
Are you a specialist or a jack-of-all-trades? Are you gifted in one or two highly focused skill sets or can you do a little bit of everything? If you were (or are) a doctor, would you be a family doc, skilled at diagnosing and treating a wide range of simple symptoms, or would you be a specialist, directing all of your faculties toward the curing of one specific human ailment?
Today’s entrepreneurial free market has given unprecedented rise to the specialist, the boutique, and the niche. For some, survival in today’s business climate has required them to focus their efforts on mastering a clearly defined niche of the market rather than trying to accommodate the full ranging needs of the average shopper.
Additionally, our star-stricken, celebrity obsessed culture directs nearly all of our attention toward the rare standout performers. We practically worship the top performers in a given sport or field of achievement, while seldom acknowledging the journeymen/women who faithfully show up and adequately perform a wide range of supportive job duties. Sometimes it’s good for us to pause and remember the journeyman (because most of us probably are the journeyman), and to remember that there is still—and always will be—a place for the jack-of-all-trades.
Can you imagine how frustrating it would be for a Swiss Army Knife to be expected to perform like a solitary screwdriver (or like a pair of scissors—have you seen the flimsy scissors on a Swiss Army knife??)? If you need to screw in a bunch of phillips-headed screws by hand you don’t want a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman—you want a big screwdriver with a comfy handle. However, if you’re camping or doing small, around-the-house maintenance, the Leatherman/Swiss Army knife can’t be beaten.
So again…which are you? Are you a solitary screwdriver or a Swiss Army knife? Are you a specialist or a generalist? Remember, a world-class generalist is just as excellent and necessary as a world-class specialist even if there isn’t as much recognition or fame attached to that role.
My hope is that we generalists can be at peace with our gift-mix and find a place to serve where only jacks-of-all-trades can truly get the job done.
I used to shout those words after counting to 100 (or close enough) and then charging out to find my hiding compadres, but I never thought that a game of hide-and-seek would contain my parenting mantra.
“Ready or not…I’m now and forever a dad.”
“Ready or not…my baby is starting Kindergarten.”
“Ready or not…my little girl is at her first sleepover.”
“Ready or not…she’s heading away for camp.”
“Ready or not…the Barbies are gone…the makeup is out…and there’s suddenly another woman living in our house.”
As you can tell, I’m a bit sentimental this week, because Amber just got her driver’s license (and Maddie has recently turned 13). No matter what I do, they both keep taking these giant steps toward independence.
Ready or not…Jessica and I are now parenting young women. And it’s awesome. And even when it’s not so awesome, I love it! I’m so grateful that I get to parent and protect and frustrate and watch over these young ladies.
They’re delightful, a dazzling mixture of beauty, personality, intensity, and charm. They’ve taught me so much, and at every stage along the way, they’ve pulled the best out of me.
I’ve learned how strong a feminine soul can be. I’ve learned how fierce a father’s heart can beat. And I’ve learned that whether or not I’m ready, God is ready. And He is not stingy in dispensing His wisdom and grace.
Whether YOU feel ready or not for your parenting (or general life) assignments, you are. Because, if you let Him, God will walk beside you, upholding and empowering you.
In The Horse and His Boy, the young boy, Shasta, got lost and had to ride his horse slowly through a dense, impenetrable fog. Bewildered and alone, he suddenly became aware of a presence and a voice that was moving alongside him in the dark. Unknown to Shasta the voice belonged to Aslan, the Lion King of Narnia, and throughout the entire night, Aslan spoke to Shasta about his history while guiding him back onto the safe path.
Even in the times when we lack clarity and direction, the voice of our king, Jesus, will guide us too.
Ready or not…you’re ready…because of the One who walks beside you.