On Being A Role Model
I had, and still have, amazing mentors all throughout my life. I’m at the age and life place where I’ve been thinking more about what it means to be a mentor and a teacher. I certainly know how valuable mentors were for me when I desperately needed them. I’d like to pay their kindness forward. I believe we change the world one person at a time, like an awesomeness virus. I am dedicated to continuing to try to spread awesomeness as far as I can.
I keep trying to figure out what all my best role models had in common, so I can be a good one myself. I think I’ve distilled it down to a few key elements I can use when I get the opportunity to act as mentor myself.
- All of my role models were both kind and exacting. Everyone from my beloved dance teacher to my very favorite English teacher to my current mentor/coach held me to a high standard of excellence while, at the same time, never shaming me for struggling. It was like they knew when I was half-assing and when I was trying my best and offered support but not coddling.
- They saw me. They didn’t try to make me into someone I wasn’t; they noticed my natural abilities and helped me shape them into something stronger.
- They took extra time with me when they supposed to be off the clock.
- They listened and expressed empathy rather than pity or sympathy. I felt like I could one day be like them rather than feeling like they were lofty and above me.
- They were vulnerable and honest enough that I could spot them as valuable role models. I knew I wanted to gain qualities they already possessed.
- They spotted my passion and supported my goals.
- They made me feel valuable and important to the world. That I could make a difference for others. That without me the world would be less cool.
I truly believe that reaching out to younger people, whether in our careers or families or otherwise, can make a vast difference in the world. Be a mentor to someone, so we can all make this world a kinder place, together.