The Gold Star Syndrome.

I've never been one of the cool kids. I've always had my head in the clouds, drafting stories based on popular 80's rock ballads (ask me about Heart's These Dreams. No joke. It's set in Ancient Greece. ;) ). I wore socks with sandals in high school and even dyed my hair teal for a costume one year-- yes, Bit of Ivory teal. (Note: The teal didn't wash out as hoped. It looked like I swam in a pool too long by the time prom rolled around.) I carried around my sketchbook and Bible like they were my identity, and if I didn't have them, I was a nobody.

[photo by Valerie Demo]

But way before high school, I was THAT kid who thrived off of gold stars. To see that gold star meant I was worthy. I worked harder and harder just so I could push myself on; I was my own cheerleader, but the cheerleader who always casted unsure glances to the stands to see if her kicks and chants were noticed. Call it a bit obsessive, but where my self-esteem lacked, my academics could make up for it. I remember in high school one of my teachers even got special stickers with my name on it because of the consistency of my quiz grades... heck yeah, I loved those things. Something so small made such an impact, but not for the healthy reasons. It was because I equated my worth with those stickers at the time.

It's the same in no matter what industry/occupation/area you're in. Your heart twitches when you feel out of place, yet soars when you are embraced by your peers. Those same issues you struggled with as a kid WILL always be a part of your adulthood in one form or another.

I wanted (and still do) to make my family and friends proud, but most of all, I want to make God proud. That I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. Running a business with integrity, being a voice for those who have none, and surrounding myself with people whom I admire and want to see demolish their struggles and succeed in spite of all odds.

[photo by Somer Chambley]

It's hard though... God can't give you gold stars, a proud-of-you hug. So I struggled for the longest time with my intentions. Am I doing this for God or am I doing this just to get noticed and be accepted? Most of my life, I chose the latter... which essentially isn't bad, but there is a fine line. (Rusty once said my self-ambition is "exhausting." haha And it's true, so it's a very fine line with me, and I have to check myself constantly.)

We can say, carve your own path. But none of us were meant to walk alone. How will we walk this path; what's our intention? How will we decide who to share our lives with? How do we become worthy?

Whether you're popular or not, are you doing what you were created to do? It's not a matter of how beautiful you are (another issue I always struggled with) because those features will fade. It's not a matter of how talented you are because talent can be taken away in a split second. It's not a matter of how rich you are because money can be depleted (as many of us felt during the recession). And it's not a matter of how popular you are because tomorrow could bring loneliness.

So I question myself every night, "Did I work with integrity and compassion? Was I a good friend to someone? Did I help someone in need? Was I a good wife? Was I true to myself?"

[photo by Sarah Mariel]

Yes, the little girl inside of me still wants to be accepted and "popular" (whatever that may mean in the real world). Will the struggle be there? Yep. I will always crave approval. But the grownup me knows it's not the end all, be all.

And when I die, I know I will see that big gold star I've waited for all of my life. But that gold star will not symbolize my worth like in the past; it is my hope that it will be the sole representation of how I lived my life.

- Chelsea :)

P.S. This post has been sitting in my drafts for a very long time; I've been hesitant to publish it because it's pretty personal. But I'm finally pushing it through as I know some friends are currently struggling with this same issue. I just hope it helps-- you're not alone. :)

P.P.S. Mega thanks to my friends and their photos of me! We did a headshot day last week, and these were perfect. It's exactly how I want to be remembered-- laughing and loving life!


  1. A beautiful and honest post Chelsea. <3

  2. What a lovely post, Chelsea, I'm so glad it didn't linger in your drafts any longer. Myself, I struggle with patience, but I know that God's timing is perfect yet so completely different to mine! My grandmother used to say, if the Word is a light to my feet and a lamp to my path, then I'm not supposed to know all of the journey ahead of me - but He provides plenty light for the next step :) xxx