10 Ways American Idol is a Metaphor for Life

I need a moment of silence, please…


Tonight is the farewell episode of American Idol. 

It’s the end of an era.

Y’all. I watched every single episode of this show. I suffered through the Nicki Minaj/Mariah Carey disaster and I even watched the ridiculous Caleb Johnson season. (No offense, Caleb.)

I still remember the exact spot I was sitting in right before the Season 1 Finale. I had moved from North Dakota to Louisiana a month before Peter so I could start a new job. We were waiting for our house to be built; therefore, I was living with my parents for a few weeks. I remember being in my childhood bedroom and dishing on the phone about all things Kelley and Justin with my friend Sunnie. (That was back when people actually talked on phones.)

And Carrie Underwood. Favorite, favorite, favorite. She is a super star and I feel strangely proud of her. Almost like I had something to do with her journey. I know. I might have a sickness…

I am a true fan of American Idol. I love every single thing about it and I am feeling ridiculously sad that tonight, it will all be over. Never again will there be a show quite like this one.

In homage to this amazing show, I would like to propose 10 ways that American Idol is a metaphor for  life.

  1. Every major accomplishment begins with a dream.

All the contestants who auditioned for American Idol had one thing in common. A dream to be the next big thing. They worked hard, putting their hearts and souls into accomplishing their dream.

In the same way, every goal that I’ve had has begun with a little dream. A little nudge from the Lord, pointing me in the way I should go.

2Some years may be bleak but we can still find joy.

Have you actually looked back at the first couple seasons of American Idol? Apparently, they were on a shoe string budget. No props, tiny hotel rooms for the auditions, signs made out of paper, horrible staging and lighting. Compared to the ultra-production that it is today… Well, there’s just no comparison. But I can still remember the laughter and joy of those first contestants. They didn’t need a huge budget or big production value. They were just happy to be a part of the journey.

When Peter and I first got married, we had very little money. His salary was rather small, we were living in a one-bedroom apartment, and we didn’t have a lot of “stuff.” But we were just happy to be on this journey together.

3. Sometimes we make some seriously poor wardrobe choices.

Brienne and I were watching the recap show on Tuesday night and we were giggling about the clothes worn by the contestants, particularly on Season 1. Cutoffs and halter tops; weird shirts made of netting. It was pretty awful. Brie noticed Kelley Clarkson sporting a four inch wide red leather belt with some denim shorts, and she was horrified.

“Mom, did y’all really wear those giant belts way back in 2002?”

Why yes, yes we did.

I can remember some other poor wardrobe choices as well. Remember stirrup pants, circa 1992? Who thought those were a good idea??

4. There may be times when we need to ditch those people who are holding us back so that we can become a better person.

Does anyone remember Ryan Seacrest’s awkward co-host in Season 1, Brian Dunkleman? (Whatever happened to him, anyway?) That pairing was very strange and difficult to watch, wasn’t it?

On Tuesday’s recap show, one of the producers mentioned that Ryan had asked to be the one to announce the first season’s winner. Apparently, he knew, even in those early days, that this other guy was holding him back from a great career.

Sometimes in life, we surround ourselves with people who don’t have our best interests at heart. In fact, some people just want to bring us down to their level, get us involved in all their drama, and it becomes necessary to turn away from them so that we can accomplish those goals set before us.

5. You need one person in your life who will tell you what everyone else is thinking.

Ah, Simon Cowell. We all loved to hate him, didn’t we? But in my opinion, he made the show. He was hateful and opinionated. But let’s be real. He always said exactly what we were thinking but were too scared to say out loud. I loved him for that.

Do you have a person in your life who will tell you the truth? Who says exactly what’s on her mind? I have a friend back home in Louisiana who is this person to me. Peter and I joke about it often because, if we want to know what’s on her mind, all we have to do is ask. But listen up, friends. We all need that type of person in our lives. Someone who will tell you when you’re living in sin, who will tell you the truth, who will speak a word from the Lord over you, who will encourage you without sugar coating everything. If you don’t have a friend like that, I encourage you to find someone who will speak truth and life into you.

6. Sometimes in life, we make poor choices and walk in the wrong direction.

Ok. So, Mandisa was my favorite contestant during her season. Until she sang that stupid Shania Twain song because it was country music night. Who in the world thought that was a good idea??

She made a poor choice that night and ended up being voted off the show. Obviously, it didn’t hurt her career or anything but still. Poor choices often have some disappointing results.

I have made lots of poor choices in my life as well. I have walked in the complete opposite direction from the one the Lord was leading me down. But I am thankful that He is able to redeem those poor choices and bring me back into His light.

7. There are periods in life when we are just trying to survive.

Nicki Minaj/Mariah Carey.

That pretty much says it all. Simon Cowell had left the show and American Idol was flailing. That was a difficult season to watch. The show was just struggling to survive and lots of drama ensued. I believe the show’s creators were desperate and close to giving up.

We all have those seasons in our lives where we are just struggling to make it to the next day. I lived in that limbo when Vivi and Jonah were very small. I struggled to make it to nap time each day and I couldn’t see how I would ever survive that season. All I wanted to do was give up. But, just like American Idol made it through that awful season and became bigger and better, our family life has changed and we are better for the struggles we experienced.

8. Sometimes all you want to do is go back home.

I love the episodes when the contestants on Idol get to go back home, visit their families, and experience all the support of their hometown. Those episodes are super emotional for the contestants because they are able to feel the love of their families and friends. Homecomings are just beautiful.

Being military, we have only lived near my family during one duty station. We are currently living thirteen hours away from my family and eight hours from Peter’s. I love our life and all the places we’ve been able to live, but sometimes I just want to go home. To feel the love of my family. To let my mom take care of me. To hang out with old friends.

Going home is rejuvenating and restful and we can all benefit from the support that our friends and family give us.

9. We will come to a point where we have to decide whether we care what others think about us or not.

Steven Tyler was one of my favorite judges. Honestly, I didn’t really like him at first because I thought he was a little crude when speaking to some of the female contestants. But he eventually grew on me. What I loved about him was that he said whatever came to his mind, even if it was wild and crazy and inappropriate. But he was also lovely and sweet and had a heart of gold. It was an interesting juxtaposition.

Steven didn’t really care what others thought about him. He wasn’t playing a role – he was just being himself. And at some point in our lives, we need to come to grips with exactly who we are. We need to quit playing roles, trying to be what everyone else wants us to be, and just be ourselves.

10. Celebrate the victories!

I am always a ball of nerves on finale night of American Idol. Watching the two finalists, seeing the cameras pull in, revealing their close-ups and their anxiety – it’s stressful for me. I love watching the winner as he or she is announced. The shock and relief and excitement amidst the confetti falling from the ceiling. The celebration of the audience and the judges and the fellow contestants. I eat it up!

I particularly loved last night’s episode when Trent was announced as the second finalist and you could see that Dalton was genuinely thrilled for him. He was celebrating his friend’s success even in the midst of his own disappointment. That is a life lesson right there.

We should all be better about celebrating the victories in our lives. No matter how big or small they are, we need to rejoice in them. And we should rejoice with our friends when they accomplish a goal, even when we may be experiencing our own disappointments. Celebrate each other, love each other, and support each other.

You know what’s funny? I used to dream about being on this show. Back when I was young enough. But now, I feel all motherly towards the contestants. How can that be? I’m still 23, aren’t I? As I was fawning over Dalton and Trent last night, Brie kept looking at me like I was a weirdo. I had to explain to her that I wasn’t crushing on them, I was feeling proud of them. Like I was their dang mom or something. Getting older is truly bizarre…


I do realize that all good things must come to an end although I really don’t want to say goodbye to American Idol. So I want to encourage all of you to watch the series finale (sniff sniff) of American Idol tonight. Even if you haven’t watched it for years, it is going to be amazing. They will be bringing back tons and tons of past contestants and I’m sure it will be over-the-top and super emotional. I know I am going to be a horrible snotty mess. And I can’t wait.

I know this is cheesy but I’m going to say it anyway:

Thanks for the memories, American Idol. You will be missed.



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