I never idolized movie stars. I never had much faith in sports heroes. My pastors, teachers, coaches and other role models were important but never beyond my own understanding. From all outward appearances, I have been an independent, peer-pressure resistant, and capable individual. I am now 26, and hindsight is 20/20. I did have an idol. Her name is Nancy Drew.
From the ages of 7 to 14, I saturated my brain with the Nancy Drew stories. I soaked in her perfection and wholesomeness. I basked in the convenience of her innate wisdom and supernatural ability to know exactly what to do in every situation. Everyone loved and trusted Nancy Drew, and she led a life of adventure and surprise. Nancy’s biggest fault was her over-developed sense of humility.
This model of female of perfection became my idol. I ached to be as adored and capable as Nancy. Unwittingly I began to define my success in terms of relational and situational perfection. (Is this similar to how girls can idolize Barbie physically? Maybe.) My life became unfulfilling without an adventure surrounding every new acquaintance. Because Nancy was poised and beautiful (and only her sidekicks were chunky or boyish,) I linked success with external appearances. Somehow I got trapped in a mental cycle between the need to be overtly optimistic and personal critiques of my inability to be everything.
But Nancy instilled other things as well. Girls can be capable AND feminine. The brain is a girl’s biggest asset to solving cases (also, life situations). Leadership requires kindness and sacrifice. Success is not exclusive of humility. A little bit of karate knowledge can save your life. If you get a bad feeling, you are probably about to uncover a dastardly crime.
Nancy, for better or for worse, you have made me who I am today. Your blue convertible, shapely legs, and random survival knowledge have set a standard for me that I will never reach. I will forgive you however, because YOU caught my attention and admiration. Instead of adulterous movie stars, drug dependent athletes, or self-serving leaders, I idolized a smart, young girl who loved her friends and had her priorities straight.
Thank you Nancy Drew! By driving me to moral and relational perfection, you helped me avoid more dangerous personal and cultural pitfalls. I still admire you, and hope your purity and logic can survive the literary future.
...Can’t you just mess up once though? Go ahead; snap at Ned. Tell Beth she’s being an idiot, and tell George to put on a dress.