Unless you are a small child or have been living on another planet altogether there probably isn’t one person – even if you aren’t politically inclined who has not heard of Sarah Palin or the Palin family. Whether you love them or hate them, support them or not, agree with them or don’t, there are certain things about the family that fascinate the public and press. (Perhaps “fascinate” isn’t even the right word – everyone seems to be obsessed with this family.) I have been both disappointed and impressed with their eldest daughter Bristol. After a stint on Dancing with the Stars, Bristol managed to capture America’s hearts as each week she was brought back after embarrassingly low scores and distasteful remarks from the judges. (What? I may not watch the show on a week-to-week basis, but I love it.) It was then that she impressed me with her quiet acceptance and wholesome personality. My regret for her obviously comes from her becoming a teenage mom with her high school boyfriend. This is the dissention that has enabled media outlets to most discredit the Palins. Now in a new memoir, Bristol recounts what it was like to live under such scrutiny – and shares the impact her decisions have had on her young life.
Bristol’s book – Unafraid of Life: My Journey So Far, starts out with a bit of background information about her parents and then her own childhood but primarily the book deals with her high school years and beyond. As a young, timid fifteen-year-old, Bristol was besotted with Levi Johnston (the boy America now knows as the father of Bristol Palin’s young son). A hockey star on the same team as her brother Track, it didn’t take her family long to develop a dislike of the relationship Bristol and Levi eventually had. At first it was as “innocent” as flattery – notes in school, conversation at their lockers and the like. When Levi passed Bristol a note that read: “will you be my girl?” Bristol had her first taste of Levi’s attitude – she was appalled because that wasn’t supposed to be how a guy expressed interest in a girl, so their relationship virtually ended. That was to be a short-lived separation. Bristol fell into a pattern of lying to her mother and more importantly herself regarding the relationship – and not just once but dozens of times. She knew what Levi was like. She knew that he couldn’t remain faithful to her and still she remained by his side with consequences resulting from her actions. This is what Bristol had to say about the “consequence” her twisted relationship with Levi resulted in:
When the doctor laid Tripp in my arms, I knew this baby wasn’t a mistake. Having sex outside of marriage was. But this baby? He was – and is – a blessing.
In America teenage pregnancy is not uncommon. Most of them are merely statistics and not ostracized for their behavior on national television: can you imagine sitting in a convention center while your mom gave a speech and not only have every single eye in the room on you (for all the wrong reasons) but millions of American’s watching on television? Weird. *shudders* Public figures, maybe are supposed to be someone we can look up to, perhaps there is even some unwritten rule somewhere, but to me, why should this teenager be any more at fault than her fellow peers? True she was in the spotlight where most girls are not, but that shouldn’t make a difference when all is said and done. I was not the type of girl who idolized someone, so seeing a Hollywood starlet or a girl who was thrust into the spotlight mess up does not affect me in terms of having looked up to someone only to be disappointed. Instead I am sorry for them. Bristol’s shame was and is still evident. Reading her humorous, emotional and personal memoir gave me a different perspective on her and a lot of times I was more disappointed in her than impressed by her attitude – the fact that others broke the news about her pregnancy to her parents and later grandmother is very unfortunate.
In my own opinion, I believe, through her entire ordeal she learned lessons of value and even though it is a shame she made the decision in the first place, in entering adulthood, I think she’ll be that much stronger for having gone through the things she did. The final chapter particularly makes me optimistic that she is changed for the better. Although some of her current situations and decisions have me a little wary in that optimism, still… hopefully she has truly realized the enormous impact her actions have made. Her stint on reality TV made me very aware of her attitude towards life and the people out to insult her every move. Seeing her interact with her partner Mark Ballas was sweet to watch because he was so kind and considerate around her – he is someone she speaks very highly of. I realize in part certain things are for “entertainment” value, but their friendship was really cute, a relationship she talks about. In the closing of her book, Bristol states that she isn’t here to be a role model or be a symbol of inspiration for young girls, but she has two younger sisters. If it is only them she has an influence in helping to mold (to make moral decisions), then all her hard work will have been worth it. I’ll close with some of the concluding lines from Bristol…
The happiest people are those who live as closely as possible to the biblical standards God laid out for us… Again, I’m not a role model, a dancer or a preacher. I’m just a girl who couldn’t hide her problems and learned a few lessons along the way. Namely, that not being afraid of life’s imperfection and complexity is the first step toward truly living it …If you follow God’s guidance for your life, He’ll help you navigate around some of the big obstacles. But be warned, there’s no telling where you might end up! He has a way of surprising you or pushing you further than you think you can go.