Miley Cyrus, My Daughters, and Managing Success

This past Sunday night, I watched the VMAs [MTV’s Video Music Awards] with my wife, my mom, and my lil brother — kind of a weird experience. Growing up, my family never had cable television… let alone watch anything that could even be remotely compared to MTV, but I guess we’re all adults now so we can handle some extravaganza that’s totally geared towards tweens & live-tweeting bloggers. [Wow. Those are almost the same type of person, yet strangely different.]

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Confession time: My motive behind wanting to watch the VMAs is because
I have bro-crushes on Justin Timberlake & Macklemore. [Consequently, I was preoccupied during the *NSYNC reunion… bummer.] See, when I was 13-years-old, my 2 dreams in life were to one day play in the NBA & be a successful awkward-looking white-dude popstar-emcee… but as I progressed through adolescence I realized that I was destined to be a 6-foot-nothing guy with slow foot-work, mediocre hops, the inability to spit rhymes that were halfway intelligent and embarrassing dance skillz. Those dreams were crushed.

[So right now you’re thinking, “when is this fool gonna get to the Miley Cyrus fiasco?!?” …I’m getting there. Be patient.]

Don’t think for a moment that I didn’t still ignore the obvious & continue pursuing my dreams. In the summer of ’96, three friends and I formed a boy band. It was short lived. In high school, my boy band dream morphed into a sappy pop-punk ploy to impress girls. The other fellas in the band were more concerned with the actual music and moved on to bigger & better things. At 19, I attended a small Christian college for the sole purpose of extending my basketball career. I shot 49% behind the arc, but was still a liability on defense. I entered my 20s with a brand new acoustic guitar & a broken heart. I managed to string together a few songs that you’d mistake for some lyrics Chris Carrabba threw into the trash can before writing ‘Screaming Infidelities’. I spent most nights either playing Xbox or performing at local open mics in the area.

But what if I would have ‘made it’? Or… what if your hopes of emulating your favorite celebrity panned out at a young age? How would we handle success? How would success handle us?

These thoughts raced through my head this past Sunday evening as I watched Miley dry hump a demented looking teddy bear… and if you witnessed the debacle then you know it only got worse.

Success is a fickle thing. Success on a grand stage at a young age is a nightmare that almost all of us undoubtably fool ourselves into thinking we could manage with stronger convictions & fewer mishaps. It’s hard to imagine what decisions led up to Miley’s performance, but with a 20-year-old at the helm & an army of ‘yes people’ surrounding her— anything can happen.

Youth, freedom, and whimsy can quickly turn into a wildfire of mischief. I speak from regrettable experience.

So should there be a ban on pursuing your dreams until you’re the ripe age of 31? Nah. Even though there might be some wisdom in that thinking, that’s certainly not my proposed solution.

My two oldest daughters have dreams somewhat similar to the ones I had as a kid. Emerson wants to be a singer — just like her favorite songwriter, Taylor Swift. Reese is an absolute ham that loves to break dance & make you laugh with an abundance of poop jokes. People tell my wife and I all the time that our kids should model, act, etc… and we wouldn’t necessarily disagree. I think our girls are beautiful & hilarious.

And a couple weeks ago, Reese actually did a photo shoot for a popular aquatic sports brand. She killed it. The whole crew loved our munchkin. Realistically, my wife & I aren’t committed to employing our children in showbiz and this shoot is probably her first/last excursion in modeling. But what if it wasn’t? What if this was only the beginning?

Jesus once told someone that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God. In other words, success can’t save us… yet, most of us wish we were the exception to this camel/sewing dilemma & could prove it if we were just given the chance to win the 643 million dollar MegaMillions Lotto.

I’m in the process of writing a book. As much as I’m aware that your first book is your worst book, I have this hope that my book will be a NYT Bestseller & lead to a sitcom the likes of “8 Simple Rules”. I can totally envision being cast to co-star in a sitcom with my girls much like mullet-less Billy Ray did with his baby girl Miley. How awesome would that be?!? Booming TV ratings. Mountains of merchandise sold. Late-night appearances on Jimmy Fallon. Hashtag goodtimes…

I don’t know Billy Ray or Miley. So I can’t assume that I know exactly how they feel about life these days. I wish I did, though. I’d totally wanna pick their brains & I’m sure we would have some interesting conversations concerning all-things celebrity. I’d bet, though, that Billy Ray never had the initial intentions of exploiting his daughter’s undeniably adorable qualities that would devolve into club songs that he most likely wouldn’t allow his lil girl to listen to while on the set of Hannah Montana. The repercussions of Hollywood’s underbelly were probably never a part of Miley’s dreams as a kid.

It’s easy for us to stand outside the glass house of a celebrity’s life & throw stones. There’s an entire empire that makes billions of dollars each year doing just that. Twitter blows up and our critical opinions are strewn about all over Facebook. Memes are blasted on our Instagram feeds. It’s just as easy for us to watch from afar with insincere sympathy & claim that we love and care for a downtrodden celeb. It’s convenient for us to simply state that Jesus loves them & flaunt our gracious attitudes while casting unbeknownst judgement. It’s almost effortless for me, or anyone else removed from such a situation, to spout off some sort of ideology that would provide a remedy that leads us down the perfect path for managing success.

The reality of it is that none of us truly know how we’ll react to success until we’re in the thick of it. Personally, I think the fear of this kind of crap happening to me is a huge contributing factor as to why I reluctantly avoided pursuing many of my dreams during my 20s — that, and I was too lazy. All of us are prone to make reckless decisions, but few of us are under the microscope lens of criticism that celebs face. It is indeed sad to observe. And prayers are needed. But it’s hard enough to manage our own lives… so I’d encourage you, “don’t buy into the myth & escapism of criticizing others’ success and/or folly. Trust me, you’ll sleep better at night.” 🙂

“Every time we wrongly criticize each other we give darkness the day off. Words lift us so love can carry us.” — Bob Goff

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