Life can be unpredictable and hard to navigate, it can also be incredibly exciting and fun. Regardless, having someone to help you along the way is incredibly beneficial and could completely change your outlook on life and how you approach it.
For many of us this person is a parent or an older sibling – maybe even a teacher. The truth is, it could be anyone so long as they inspire you. So, I thought I’d write about role models (or mentors) as I think everyone should have one, as I’ll explain below:
First and foremost, it’s important to understand what a role model is. I like to look at like this: a role model is someone who exhibits behaviours you’d like to adopt, someone who shares principles and beliefs with you and most importantly someone who inspires you, and someone you can learn from. As I mentioned earlier – this could quite literally be ANYONE. Do you have a friend who's amazing at sports or music, who motivates you to get better? It could be your English teacher, who inspires you with their understanding of literature and poetry. It could be a celebrity or a businessperson. The point is so long as they are someone you can look up to, they’re a role model.
A word of warning:
Despite what I said earlier, about anyone being a role model, it's important for us to choose carefully and appropriately. What I mean by this is that we shouldn’t follow people mindlessly. Just because someone looks “cool” or is on trend, doesn’t mean they’re the right role model for you. In fact, plenty of people we look up to wind up disappointing us, whether it be through crime or through controversy. This is why we have to take a moment to research people before we declare them role models as we might wind up doing ourselves more harm than good. Additionally, let this be a moment to remind you to take everything with a grain of salt. Remember that your role model declaring something as true, does not in fact make it true. Having these barriers and boundaries in your mind will help keep you protected and keep these people human – ultimately, they’re not any different from you and I, and shouldn’t be deified because of their success.
So, how to choose a good role model?
First, I’d recommend defining your principles. A principle is a rule or standard that you abide by – in essence each principle can be thought of as a point on your moral compass. Knowing what your principles are can help you to act with integrity and honesty and keep you grounded as you make important decisions. It would then make sense to find a role model who aligns with your principles – this doesn’t mean that you agree with everything they say (being challenged can be incredibly helpful) but it means that you have some common ground.
For example, if one of my principles was honesty, I wouldn’t choose someone renowned for deceit to be my role model, instead I would opt for someone who is known for being true to their word.
Secondly, you should look at the media you consume. Oftentimes, we already have role models, or people we look up to, present in the movies we watch, the books we read, the music we listen to and so on. Now, you can take a more conscious approach and start to recognise the types of people you look up to and think about why. You should find that your principles match up with theirs, and if they don’t you should ask yourself why.
After that, it's simply a matter of research. Find out more about this person, what draws them to you? What amazing things have they done with their life? What do you have in common (or not)? By finding the answers to these questions, you’ll also learn a lot about yourself which will help you to grow as a person. Then, you simply work to bridge the gaps between yourself and this person. How can you become more like your role model? Train more? Read more? Push yourself? Relax more? Be more social? Spend more time with yourself? Eventually, you should be able to come up with a list of things you can do to improve yourself, and these could become goals. After you achieve most of your goals, you will probably notice that you have a lot more in common with your role model, and by that time it's probably a good idea to choose another!
Tiffany Igharoro is a sixth form student. One of her favourite pastimes is writing as it helps her organise her thoughts creatively and dynamically. She has won awards and prizes for poetry, academic and scientific writing and short stories. Recently, she won a nationwide historical essay competition that opened her eyes to the importance of how things are told, and the impact ordinary people have on the world. She studied art GCSE and believes there is something incredible about finding links between drama, art and maths.
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