The ones we look up to

When I was in 7, going to school was a whole new system. I was so scared of newness I never learnt how to buy beehoon from the chinese stall because it was just too intimidating. Instead I stuck to buying ‘ikanbillis with chicken sauce’ for a very large part of my primary school life. The girls in Primary 5 and 6 were so much taller and bigger, they had an air of confidence and knew their way around.

When I was 11, our classes were in the afternoon shift, meaning gymnastic training was in the morning. In my enthusiasm I came as early as the morning classes and would hide behind the blue barricades while they had their morning assembly so no one would question me. I would sometimes looked across the road and see the girls in secondary school who were much more mature, unashamed of being overly enthusiastic and passionate for daredevil gym moves.

I’ve always looked to people ahead of me to see how I should navigate my life, my sisters, the older community in church, celebrities on TV… Today, while reading about the passing of Kobe in the crash, I felt a little bit of my world shake. I wasn’t the biggest basketball fan, I stopped watching NBA a long time ago but perhaps it’s more that he was one of the many people I would be interested in to see how they navigate life. I occasionally read up on celebrities and my favourite part of the wikipedia page is the column about their ‘personal life’ who they married or what they fight for. (and it’s also useful to then look at the category ‘early life’ to see where they came from).

Many of the people I look up to are 5-10 years ahead of me. I watched them try, I watched them rise, I watched them fight. They represent who I could be, who I don’t want to be. I could catch a big break like Kelly, or I could spiral like Britney, or I could switch it up like my sister. I could quit my stable career, I could work for the church, I could try studying again.

This is the generation before me. They are the ones who give me a sense of what’s out there in the world. They are the seniors I cheer on because they are a little less scared of the world than I am.

I never saw myself as someone courageous or exemplary, perhaps no one wants to because there’s a pressure to not mess up. However, recognizing the ones I grew up watching, I come to realize that people 10 years younger are looking at how I live and we are that generation for them.

Sometimes the world gets too scary, I start to feel powerless, hopeless and overwhelmed. I recognize my hands of brokenness, laziness and failure wondering what I could ever do to make this world better, to inspire the juniors I witness to. I rather hide. But into the deep Jesus comes and sits with me in the fear. Like he did for the many older brothers and sisters before me, he helps me up and walks with me.

You know those little shiny moments in your life that really stand out when you look back? Those were moments of grace, the times you held Jesus’ hand.

When I imagined how it must have felt to be in the little girl in the helicopter, the same fear welled up in me. But then, that little girl had her father there with her, and that presence might be all she needed to console her scared little heart. What more the Father of the whole universe who accompanies me everyday through the scary and the lovely.

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