Imagine yourself as an Olympic runner, and today is the day you race. You’ve been training for, waiting and anticipating this day since that day your coach told you that you actually had potential.
Perspiration slicks the skin of your arms and legs and you glare up at the sun peering through the clamorous stadium that holds – how many people was it? 90, 000 people? – “Who cares about the amount of people,” you think to yourself, “I just need to focus on the track”.
After your stretches, the time comes and you put your feet in their place on the track. You crouch into position, breathe in and out slowly three times, and BAM! The gunfire goes off and you run. Your legs move swiftly and smoothly without even thinking about it. They move so quickly, it nearly feels as if you are flying. You cross that finish line before your opponents, breaking a world record and winning the gold medal.
After that, everyone who attempts at racing, everyone who dreams of being in the Olympics for that race, everyone who trains as much as you did, is simply a wannabe you.
Now imagine yourself in an office. It’s spacious, and has a beautiful view of the water coming from the large window sitting behind your desk. You just finished unpacking and placing all your framed pictures in a perfect arrangement of memories around your office – a picture of you and your daughter smiling with ice cream, a picture of you and your brother cheering at a family get-together, and of course a picture of your spoiled German Shepherd puppy – these are just a few of the photos that grace your office’s space.
You touch the substantial mahogany desk, run your fingers along the most expensive computer system you can find, and reminisce on all the toil you went through to get this position in the company.
And now that you’re here, everyone outside your office, working and toiling to get a raise, is simply a wannabe you.
Finally, imagine yourself back in highschool. You stride into the cafeteria with two of your close friends, Derek and Abby. You look around for a place a sit and spot a lonely girl with blue dye in her hair and an eyebrow piercing. “Guys, why don’t we go sit with her?” You ask.
Derek wrinkles his nose, and Abby says, “Why would we do that? She’s just a wannabe.”
“A wannabe what?” You ask yourself. “A wannabe friend? A wannabe student?”
You ignore your constant questioning, sit down with the rest of your friends and remind yourself how popular and lucky you are to have all the friends you do.
And since that is the case, every other student without friends, every student wishing to fit in, is simply a wannabe you.
It has reoccurred many times in my life where I see the movie, read the book, or hear the tale that is based on the true story of someone who has gone from nothing, to something by being a good, hard worker – much l While these so-called American Dream stories may be true, it sometimes gives a sense of false hope – constantly trying to achieve something, but never becoming successful.
Furthermore, there will always be something to achieve – that is, there will always be something we want more of. Once a goal is set and achieved, what does one usually do? One would usually set another one. And after that? Set another goal. Perhaps you as an Olympic runner would want to break your own record, or win another gold medal. Maybe you as an owner of a company, will want to own yet another company. Or you as a high school student could perhaps want more friends from other schools in order to be popular across your city.
Now don’t get me wrong, setting goals and making achievements are amazing accomplishments in themselves, and many people would not be where they are at without them. But if we are constantly setting goals, constantly achieving, then who is to be with us at the times in our lives when we are in the process of making the goals and crossing the achievement line? And what exactly is our end goal? And by “end”, I mean end. Yes, what I mean to say is: what exactly is it that you want with the life that has been so graciously given to you?
If you are a Christian, then you believe your life is dedicated to God, who gave it to you, and you want to live for him. And many people, Christian or Non-Christian, recognize that making goals and achieving them is a brilliant process that opens our eyes to new opportunities, and helps us learn more about ourselves. Which is true. But what most people do not recognize is that the process in between those stages is just as brilliant. Sure, the movie will capture the runner when training hard, the unreasonable working hours that the company owner put up with, and the dramatic events of a high school student before they become popular. But none of them celebrate the in between areas where the goal has been set but nothing has yet been achieved. Why does no one celebrate this? The obvious answer is that it is often pure turmoil, and no one likes turmoil, and why would anyone celebrate tough situations? Well, maybe someone like me would want to celebrate it as an excuse to eat cupcakes and donuts – Just kidding, of course! (Although I won’t say no to those).
But my question is: why not celebrate the areas that we learn through turmoil? I mean even James, the brother of Jesus, wrote in his book about 50 AD (The NIV study Bible, 2011), “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2 NIV). So why not shout to the world that maybe we’re not exactly a famous singer like Carry Underwood, or maybe we’re not famous authors like J.R. R Tolkien, but that we are indeed hard-working, currently going through a tough situation, wannabes!
Yes, I said it. “Wannabe”. It’s a term that often contains a negative connotation; a term that no one really wants to be associated with. The wannabe is the person who doesn’t quite fit in, the person who tries too hard to be someone that they are clearly not. But haven’t we all at one point in our lives been wannabes? When we were ten years old, we looked up to people that inspired us and said to ourselves “I wannabe like that”. Only, when we were ten, we were told that these were “dreams” of becoming like someone, not that we were wannabes. So when did it change? And why can we rejoice our dreams and goals, but not celebrate being a wannabe, or our hard work to achieve those goals?
I think the obvious answer to this question is that you can. You can rejoice in trials and temptations you are going through. In fact, verse 2 in James chapter 1 commands us as Christians to consider those trials “pure joy”. And while you consider that, also consider the fact that you are a wannabe as well.
And so am I.
I am a wannabe writer, author, artist, traveler and teacher. Most importantly, I am a wannabe more like Jesus. And I encourage you to embrace and celebrate the wannabe in you. Join me on this onward excursion called hope as I celebrate the simple, ordinary, and sometimes difficult aspects of crossing the finish line with Jesus by my side. As Paul writes in the book of Romans, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope” (Romans 5: 3-4 NIV). So even though we might not be Olympic runners, “let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV).