Remember Hannah Montana? The character on the Disney Channel show of the same name, with the twangy voice and brightly colored clothes (or at least more clothes than Miley Cyrus wears nowadays).
The reinvented Miley Cyrus is Hannah Montana’s polar opposite. No longer Disney Channel’s darling, Miley is now famous for, as she told Jimmy Fallon, “twerking and licking stuff.”
She’s polarizing. She’s a spectacle. And last I checked, her album was number one on the Billboard Top 200.
Is this most recent iteration of character Miley “just being Miley,” a hybrid of a delayed teenage rebellion and a slightly premature quarter life crisis? Or is it a calculated career move, designed to catapult Miley from child star has-been to global buzz word?
What was Hillary Duff’s last song? Do you remember? Something about letting the rain fall down. I think she married a hockey player, but I couldn’t tell you if she’s still acting or singing. And maybe she no longer wants to, which is perfectly fine. Nor should she be required to do a complete 180 of character and personality to maintain a career.
This strategy worked for Miley, catapulting her back into the spotlight. But for the 99.9% of us who aren’t in the spotlight and aren’t trying to get there, here are the aspects of Miley’s reinvention that are applicable:
1. Haters are gonna hate
Not everyone is going to like you. Period. You can try to go through life without offending anyone, but someone is going to be offended anyways. George Bernard Shaw said: “The secret to success is to offend the greatest number of people.” (Insert mental picture of George Bernard Shaw twerking here). Plenty of people are offended by Miley, but even more are talking about her. If you would qualify a number one album as success, then Miley and GBS are clearly on the same page.
2. Don’t let your past define you
Hannah Montana is now a part of Miley’s past, rather than something that is interchangeable with her public image. If there’s a time in your life or aspects of your past that you’re embarrassed about or regret, acknowledge them and move on. Growth and evolution are part of human nature, or at least they should be. Stasis does not make for long-term fulfillment and satisfaction.
3. Don’t let other people define you
You have a fuller picture of your past and your present, your anxieties and quirks and dreams than anyone else does. People will judge you no matter what, but what matters most is how you define success and how at peace you are with your own life. Many twenty-somethings are in a state of flux, and it’s only natural to turn to those we trust – parents, significant others, friends – for guidance and direction. But when this guidance subverts what you want to be doing with your life, if you’re fortunate enough to know what that is, then that becomes a problem.
4. Don’t be your own worst critic
As the Dove Real Beauty sketches so poignantly illustrate, we often judge ourselves much more harshly than others do. The sketches deal with physical beauty, but their takeaways have much broader implications. If you look in the mirror and see only flaws and shortcomings, you may find it difficult to motivate yourself to make positive changes in your life. If someone insults us, it’s easy to let the words fester, whereas if someone compliments us, we’re often quick to discount it: “Oh, she must want something from me,” or “He probably says that to everyone.” If someone pays you a sincere compliment, write it down. When you’re having a day when your self-esteem is faltering, go back and read your list. And while you’re at it, make sure to pay other people compliments when they deserve to be complimented. What seems like a throwaway comment to you just might make someone’s day.
Maybe Miley, with her twerking and her licking, is on to something that all quarter-lifers should be more attune to. If you feel like it’s time for a reinvention, what’s stopping you?
Grab your dream and your cardigan, and you’re ready to go.
By Kathleen Toohill