Looking back at the various stages of my life, I realise that role models played a great part in steering my personal path. When I was a teenager, I aspired to be like the popular girls who seemed very mature for their age. They were the ones dating older guys, and many of them hung out with gangsters. As a young, impressionable and insecure girl, they seemed so cool to me. Thus, I made decisions - from the people I associated myself with to the parties I’d sneak out to – in an attempt to follow their footsteps. While I don’t regret my past as I believe my mistakes and lessons learned have created who I am today, I have to admit, that stage was a clear example of me not having the right role models.
In my early twenties, the sitcom Sex and the City was my gospel. I admired the four women and what they stood for – strength, sexual freedom, independence and a glamourous lifestyle. These ladies were fierce, fun and fabulous. And in their five-inch Manolos, they were taking over Manhattan. Perhaps Carrie is to blame for my designer shoe obsession!
I admit that my choice of role models didn’t exactly steer me into making the best of decisions at times. Regardless of what stage I was in though, I was fortunate that my family instilled deep-rooted values that surfaced when I was ready to grow up. Also, I had my sisters to look up to as mentors. My oldest sister showed me the value of being humble, considerate and family oriented. While I’m still an ever-evolving student in this, I still recall the lesssons she taught me as I was growing up.
In terms of career, I followed my second sister’s footsteps religiously. Heck, I even worked at the same company she did. I looked at her drive, her ambition, independence and go-getting attitude and wanted to emulate that. So I did. Looking up to my sister has had great impact in the success I’ve had in the corporate world.
There is significant importance of having role models. That is, having the right role models. If you look up to self-destructive or morally corrupt people, you’ll make all the right decisions in going down the wrong path. Unfortunately, in our mainstream media, many stars are celebrated for their glamorous lifestyles, looks, sexuality, and fancy toys. Let’s take reality TV star, Kim Kardashian, for instance. I have nothing against her; however, if you take Kim for face value, she stands for excess, easy money, fame by sex tape, consumerism and marriages with a 3-month shelf life. Yet millions of young girls look up to her, and want to be like her. The type of example she sets for such girls, many who are impressionable, vulnerable and trying to discover their identity in the world is not a positive one.
On the other hand, if you have the right role models – people who are inspiring, who are making contributions to society, who have a strong moral compass – then you’ll likely make decisions that will take you towards a positive path of life.
When I watched the documentary, MisRepresentation, the film discussed the problem with the negative portrayal of women in the media. The lack of positive female role models has and continues to have seriously damaging effects on society. While I don’t discount looking to the media for inspirational examples, I think you can find inspiring people in your daily life. Role models do not have to be famous celebrities or media personalities. You can find inspirational mentors in your friends, coworkers and family. In addition, determining who your role models are does not mean you want to have an exact copy of their life. It means there is an aspect, quality or characteristic of theirs that you respect and admire, and you can use that as a guide in your own life.
Who are your role models, and why? When you look at someone that you find inspiring, what aspects of them do you want to embody and want to emulate?