You Cannot Do Anything!

You have to watch this SNL video!

The “Youtube” generation got a self-confidence check Saturday night, in what I think was the best sketch-based social commentary on SNL since the last presidential election. This video is hilarious. There is just enough truth to the premise to make us all a little uncomfortable. It’s kind of scary. Will my kids be brimming with unearned self-confidence?

The best exchange was:

Taylor: “I’m what you would call Twitter Famous.”
Host: “Meaning?”
Taylor: “Not famous.”
Host: “I suppose your self-esteem reflects that?”
Taylor: “No, on the contrary my self-esteem is through the roof because nobody has ever been honest with me about how mediocre I am.”

Empty praise is an illusion which leads to a distorted view of the self. It’s not that self-worth should be strictly tied to performance, but it should at least be tied to reality.

What we should teach our kids is not, “you can be anything,” but rather, “You cannot be anything, because you have to be you.” It’s great to tell your kid, “You have unique gifts, talents, personalities, callings, etc.” But, it must be said in the context of learning that those things are gifts which are meant to be stewarded for the kingdom of God. Uniqueness is not achieved, it is a gift from God. Maybe we should tell our kids, “You cannot be anything! Because you’ve been made for a unique purpose. Your job is to figure out who you are, what you are good at, bad at, passionate about and willing to work for. Then you look to see where God is at work int he world & leverage all that you know about yourself to participate in God’s redemptive project. You are responsible to be who God has called you to be, and to allow God’s kingdom to break into this world through the way you live, and work, and love, and even how you view yourself.”

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  • Loved the sketch. It's very true about the generation I'm slightly a part of. I heard Marc Maron (irreverent comic) say not too long ago that he was frustrated by all these new comedians (open mic-ers) that are all over the place flooding the scene. He asked, "When did this not become scary?"

    I think the angle you are talking about here is true, but it's so much easier to say, "you can be anything you want to be."

  • Den

    Self-confidence… Self-esteem…

    How do we develop these qualities in ourselves except by discovery? We have to be open to finding out what we're made of, what we're good at, and, just as important, what we're not good at, to truly unveil what we're going to do in the world.

    G-d has a way of telling us what we need to know, on a piece-meal basis. At least, that's been my experience. I suspect that if we were given the full report, we would fail to understand that things have to be developed over time. We want it all right now, but that's not the way life happens. The lessons learned, painful and otherwise, have to be learned to prepare us for the next step.

    So, I think we can tell our children, "You can be anything." But the process of discovering what that anything is – that may close off some of the paths that were sought, and open up other avenues that are surprises in themselves. The statement that should accompany "you can be anything," is perhaps "but we don't know what anything is just yet."

  • Maybe we could tell them, "You might be anything?"

  • Bro, I think you're wrong about this generation getting an self-esteem check. The YouTube generation also, has little ability to make a projection onto themselves or compare themselves to a character they don't like.

    As great is the esteem of the kids making videos of themselves doing something average or below, just as weak is their ability to take a sober glance at their greatness.

  • Hey Micah – not sure I get what you are saying about the youtube generation… (BTW, is that a thing? the youtube generation? I've not heard it before now)

    What I'm more interested in is how we talk with our kids about their identity and vocation.

  • My favorite line — "I've never been punch!"

    What a great skit. Just enough truth to be both funny and sad at the same time! My wife (a full time elementary teacher) and I watched this a couple times. I stopped watching SNL a long time ago because it stopped being funny. This was classic!

  • Matthew – so many great lines, right?

  • Den

    Here's a possible alternative to "you can do/be anything." Just tell your kids, "You will be something." That's intentionally vague and uncertain, just like the future. And if done right, it can be the spur to discovery and exploration. What do you think?