Ditching the Me Mentality

Ditching the Me Mentality August 22, 2013

It’s Miz Shelby here. Mama talks about me every now and again. But you all might not know what I look like. That’s me over there on the left. I look a lot like my twin sister, Ashley. It’s confusing, I know. But it’ nice to meet you. You’re going to be seeing a lot of me over here in the next few weeks, and I am very excited to tell you why.

When I was six, my family moved across town. In the middle of kindergarten, I had to start attending a new school. No longer did I ride the bus with the neighbor kids, or walk with friends the four blocks to the babysitter’s house after school. Everything was new. Now school was a short walk down a hill, accompanied by my brother. But kindergarten was only half-day and, in the middle of the year, it was hard to find occasional help for the days when Mama worked.

There was a daycare just across the street from the elementary school. I went to that daycare a grand total of one day.

I hated every minute of it. The mandatory naps on blue mats lined up on the floor. The macaroni and cheese lunch. I remember more about that one day at daycare than I do about the countless afternoons spent at the babysitter’s home. I complained so much about that day at daycare, that I never had to go back. In fact, after that one day at daycare, I would occasionally ride a taxi across the small town back to the old babysitter’s house after school. A six-year-old riding a taxi to the babysitter’s house. That was me. Oh. Along with my twin sister, Ashley.

For the next decade, whenever we drove past that daycare, my sisters and I would complain loudly about how much we hated that one afternoon we spent in daycare. I am sure there were a myriad of reasons why Mama never sent us back to that daycare and choose, instead,  to send us back to our old babysitter. We eventually transferred back to the old school via bus, and I wouldn’t ride in another taxi again until I was an adult.

I look back on that experience and realize the depth of how spoiled and privileged I was. Have you read the recent New York Times article Seeing Narcissists Everywhere about Dr. Twenge’s research that the Millennial, or the Me Generation, is “increasingly entitled, self-obsessed and unprepared for the realities of adulthood.” Could she be describing me? My generation?

Contrary to Twenge’s argument, there are those who believe Generation Y is actually more civic-minded than previous generations.

I didn’t attend private school or expensive extracurricular programs. I wasn’t a trust fund baby, and my family was not wealthy by any means. My parents were educators. Still, I was spoiled. I’ve known that for a long time.

I don’t know how old I was when I began to realize just how good my childhood had been. That I had all my needs met and most of my wants satisfied. My parents didn’t grow up with the same sort of abundance I had. My grandfather had only a 9th grade education. My great-grandparents couldn’t read or write, or drive cars. Raised by teachers, I knew from an early age that education was an important gift. And my parents worked hard to provide over and above for their four children and encouraged us as we sought our own education.

By the age of 16, I was earning my own money working at the local grocery store. Mostly it was gas money. I was already saving for college, too. I remember attending a large youth conference that summer and hearing a call to sponsor children. I’d heard about girls in India, and how they didn’t have the same opportunities I had. The same chance to go to school. Or the choice to date the cute musician. Or even work at the market down the street. I decided then and there to use some of the money I made bagging groceries to sponsor a girl in India. I wanted her to be able to go to school and work and have some of the same opportunities that I had.

I never met her, but I’ve been praying for her for half of my life now. My first sponsor child has since grown up and moved on, but I have been sponsoring children in other countries since that time. My hope is that giving out of the abundance that I have, I might change the life of even one child. 

In just a few weeks, I will be headed to Guatemala with World Vision. I will have the opportunity to meet my sponsor child and witness the work World Vision is accomplishing in Central America.

I am overwhelmed and completely humbled to join in on this trip. I pray this means that I’ve come a long way from the middle-class brat who rode a taxi to kindergarten. That maybe I’m separating myself from the entitlement that Dr. Twenge sees motivating my peers.

Above all, my prayer is that my sponsorship will change the life of one child. With your help, perhaps together we can make sure every child in the community where I will be visiting is sponsored. The first step toward reaching this goal is prayer.

I ask that you pray with me as I prepare for this journey. Pray for the children in Guatemala. For the work World Vision is accomplishing there. And if your prayers lead you to action, click here to sponsor a child in Guatemala. 

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