Social expectations come early for all of us. We are taught to accept what is told to us because we find out that we are most likely to get what we need by parroting what those around us say. Since we are busy mimicking those around us who have the ability to bestow on us that which we need most; from the most basic needs like food, shelter and clothes when we are young, to the more ephemeral needs in attaining meaning, self knowledge and self awareness, we find ourselves performing to meet extreme social standards and are taken off course in our own development. That creates a chasm between the role we play, the expectations that we are held to, and who we really are. And so we have the Manti Te’os of the world.
The illusion that Manti was able to create ensured his status and he thrived. But the energy that was consumed in performing the role plagued him and made him question himself. At some point he faced a social situation in which his truth would be exposed. Unsure of himself because of years of listening to others and coming to the awareness that he was not who he and others claimed him to be, he felt ashamed. The motivation for the story of Lennay Kekua was born.
Our voyeuristic and gossiping nature precedes the rest of us. We lack authenticity in our own lives so we salivate at the mere mention of drama in other’s lives. We cheer the rise of stars, living vicariously on their ability to rise above it all. But we are as unrealistic with our expectations as the organizations that script celebrity behavior. So, Manti, Lance, and Tiger have been forced to play the role created as much by us as the organizations and corporate entities they represent. When inconsistencies in celebrity behavior are exposed instead of feeling compassion we begin the feeding frenzy of speculation and gossip, demonizing the celebrity and contributing to his downfall.
So as Manti struggles with the increasing pressure of being under a microscope, we sit back and dissect his every move without regard of the continued stress that is mounting for him. We are mere observers in ours and Manti’s life story. We lack the integrity to realize the problem we perpetuate with the social standards that we support. Those who dare to rise in status and are most visible in that role are the most easy to scapegoat. By holding people like Manti accountable for their misdeeds without any other consideration, we fail to take notice or even address the social issues that develop their roles in the first place.
Nanaymie Kasmira Godfrey MS, MAC, LMHC