Saturday, February 17, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

It's not easy being a role model

Oh, the drama.

I wish that I could attribute today's association to these words to some melodramatic teenage girls who will inevitably be BFFs again before fifth period.

Sadly, I can not.

From childhood, and then through high school, I found myself — well, truth be told I put myself — smack dab in the middle of being the quintessential harmonious mediator.

I was always trying to reconcile the falling outs between friends or maintain a friendship with one friend even though another friend despised them. And of course, I found myself participating in the dramatic discussions just to avoid seeming like a "goodie-goodie."

And sometimes, we get caught up in the gossip because I think there's an innate, primal instinct in humanity to do it.

I remember everyone wanting to be done with high school so we could put this way of life behind us. I hear my kids say it now.

We should tell them that outlook is naive.

The gap between people's differences, opinions, successes and failures only grows larger and more diverse after high school, which exacerbates insecurities and envy.

Worse than gossiping, we even try to keep the peace face to face with certain people that we'd really rather not.

Why do we subject ourselves to some of the people who treat us the worst? Why do people smile to your face and run their yap the minute you walk out of the room? How can someone criticize you when they know that same criticism could be leveled against them? Why do they fail to recognize the complete and utter hypocrisy?

Why can't we just be honest about how we feel without causing a churning of the estrogen that results in a mutiny against a person?

Why is everything taken so personally?

Why do people say "I would rather you just be honest with me" only to be upset when you try to explain the truth?

Because people don't actually want honesty. People want to be told what fits their reality and trust that it is the truth. And then sit around with friends, a glass of wine and dissect it into a million little pieces because it didn't "add up."

We're all guilty.

Personally, I'm exhausted.

I am tired of staying quiet in the moment to "keep the peace," only to dwell on it for the next week, alone or with other friends.

If I think someone isn't worth my time, I shouldn't grant them any of it.

No longer should I allow people to judge me who have no idea how to be happy and aren't even close to having their life together.

I think gaining your own peace means not worrying about keeping the peace between anyone else, at the cost of your own. If you are honest and genuine, the people who really matter, because they have settled their own internal tug of war, will understand and appreciate you.

It's not just the realization that talking about other people is exhausting and not healthy, it's recognizing the kids are listening.

I hear my kids say they have to do something a certain way or so-and-so will cause trouble. Or I hear them talking about someone who just spent the night.

I also can't help but wonder how they can respect the teacher, coach or family friend as we demand when they hear us say things about them and then continue the friendship.

I probably won't fix this overnight. I'll probably be guilty of the same hypocrisy I despise.

But our kids are watching. And learning. Which means we have to change.

Heather Tempesta is a Brandon mother of two sons, 17 and 10, and a daughter, 15.

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