Life Lesson From Friends


I am a huge FRIENDS fan! I followed them all through my university life, right up to the year my youngest was born. Now, she is 12, and we still watch all the seasons…she actually uses them to go to sleep at night, or if she wakes up at night, she presses play on her DVD player and it lulls her back to sleep.Friends has a huge part in our household.

My kids can actually recite many of the different scenes word for word. Lately, the most frequent quote has been from the very first episode when Rachel is talking to her father on the phone, and she says, “It’s like all my life everybody keeps telling me that I’m a shoe. You’re a shoe, you’re a shoe, you’re a shoe! But what if I don’t want to be a shoe anymore? Maybe I want to be a purse, or a hat… I don’t want you to buy me a hat, I’m saying I am a hat! It’s a metaphor, Daddy!”
Have you ever felt the way that Rachel was feeling this day? Like everyone sees you as a shoe, but you want to be a purse or a hat? So many times we get labeled and this label does not let you live up to your true potential. I know when I met with my guidance counselor in grade 12 about my future plans, she didn’t have the greatest hopes for me at university…as a high school student, I had one focus, and that was being the best gymnast I could be…I had not one care about school work. If it wasn’t for my parents threatening that I had to stop gymnastics training if I didn’t pass, I probably would have not graduated.
I literally got a 50% in English. I hated English! I know that if my English teacher realized I had my own blog, he would be very surprised. I loved all my teachers, but what they saw of me, was not the true me. I didn’t show them the competitive side of me. I didn’t show them that if I wanted something bad enough, I was going to reach it. Guaranteed!
If I had of listened to my teachers, I probably wouldn’t have amounted to much, but I was the type of person that had a lot of confidence in themselves and you can tell me what you think of me, but that just makes me work harder to prove you wrong…which was a big motivation with what my guidance counselor told me. She didn’t think I’d make it in university…but years later, I graduated on the Dean’s List, and then went on to get my second degree in Education…which was what I really wanted to do. She told me I’d never make the marks to get into the Education program. To her, I was the shoe…but I knew I was a purse!
So many times this happens. I’ve had students who have told me that their parents tell them that they don’t want them, that they are stupid, that they are deadbeats…I’m not a perfect parent either, but I do try my hardest not to label my children. Sometimes this is difficult, when my daughter loves to take her time and I’m on high speed at all times…but “Pokey” never comes out of my mouth…other people have called her “Pokey”…my neighbor calls her the ‘Pokey Little Puppy’ from the popular kids book, which I can totally understand.
It’s inevitable that kids will get labeled at some point or another…by friends or family, but I want to teach my children that you are what you think you are, not what others think you are. My son is “THE SMART GUY”, which he loves, and labels like that anyone can handle, it’s the negative ones that we want to blast out of our lives.
Ephesians 2:10 explains that we were all made to be great! “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We just need to believe in ourselves, and not let others guide our perception of ourselves. Live up to the label you want to be, not the label that you’ve been told you are!
We have to learn that people are going to think we are one way, but like Jennifer Aniston in the first episode of Friends, you have to know what you want to be…a shoe, or a purse. Just because all your life you’ve been told that you are a shoe, doesn’t mean you are a shoe. If you feel in your heart that you are a purse, than be a purse! Be what God made you to be…GREAT and nothing less!

~Toby Hale

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