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Choosing Role Models

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  • Choosing Role Models

    You know in elementary when they may have had you write an essay on who your role model is and why? Well, growing up taught me reality - that each of us is flawed in this way or that. Now that I have a better grasp on the world and people, I realize that it is so important to be intentional - with life choices, with choosing role models in this particular case. So how do you choose your role models if you have any? Do they share the same values? Are they famous or family? Have they attained the goals you too aspire to reach someday?

    An example I'll briefly offer of a mentor/role-model (I'm not sure if those terms can be interchangeable) is that of my uncle. Before he was my uncle, he was my Sunday school teacher and had not yet married my aunt (my mother's sister). He was one of my role models, aside from my parents, because he was involved in my childhood - often spending time with our family before having been married - and also because he was one of the few other males in my life at the time (not really great reasons for calling him a role model, I know). I grew close to him, sharing the bond of trust to talk about life, we shared the same values (then again, I was eight-fourteen years old at the time I considered him my role model, so what did I know?) Anyway, he is no longer my role model - not that he has solely poor characteristics. It's just that, once I grew up a little, I realized he had some issues, including developing alcoholism struggles (which my parents had only just become aware of). This all began when he married my aunt, that threw my family for a tangent - and we knew a lot more about him (negatively-speaking) through my aunt as she was his wife (not that this was wise on her part). I felt I lost my trust and confidence in an old friend turned uncle and was extra upset now that I knew how he sometimes treated my auntie. Now he and my aunt, his wife, have kept their distance from our family - privacy-wise - which I think is good (as long as they are seeking help elsewhere) - but it also has created a rift in how we all feel about each other. We are doing okay now, but I describe all this to say - it is hard to trust someone as a role model when in reality they may not be as put-together as you think. Basically, I'm asking if someone has gone through something like this? Feeling at a loss for a role model when they were young or young adults, and how they rerouted their situation and if they chose another role model after that or not? Have any of you maintained your perspective as someone as your role model even though they still have major struggles?
    Last edited by ArtsyAngel63; October 10th, 2018, 11:04 PM.

  • #2
    The great thing about being a child is you get to keep living in this fantasy world where - when someone is good - they are perfect. Children don't see the grey areas between good and bad as well as adults do. They like you, or they don't. You're good, or bad. There isn't much in between.
    But the world is made up entirely of those grey scales. There is no absolute good and absolute evil. We all carry some of both with us to some extent. Even Hitler was known to be gentle to his dogs after all.
    What you learn as you get older and lose your childish naivity is that people can be good and bad at the same time, there can be good in their bad and bad in their good and so on. It's part of becoming a fully functioning adult. So it's only normal to lose your naive admiration for role models, since you're starting to see them through adult eyes.
    What you should also learn is that a flawed person can just as easily stay a role model. Better yet, they should be a role model because at least they are real, human and flawed. Looking up to someone you percieve as flawless is unhealthy for an adult. Because when you make mistakes, which you inevitably will, a good role model could teach you how to get back up and fix the mistakes you've made.
    You can't control the waves, but you can learn to surf


    • #3
      I can't say I've had any one person I looked up to completely as a child but I picked traits that I came to value over time. I watched for people whom I thought I might respect but people are flawed and respect wanes with time (people evolve and you should too). I'd say my husband now is probably the closest person I respect totally. It appears that you're searching for emotional or mental stability in the form of a person. Or you seem disenchanted with a lot around you and are looking for hope in humanity in the form of another person. Don't lose faith in humanity. There are ups and downs but it doesn't mean that there isn't good in this world.


      • #4
        Ayla, you have a great point! Everyone has good and bad in them. Looking up to someone who overcomes habitual problems in a healthy fashion should be how I choose if I do choose to have said role models. Because of course, no one is this standard of perfection. I guess I just want to make sure it wouldn't be someone who has these bad things all the time or doesn't care to improve - because then what would I learn from them that's healthy?


        • #5
          Rose, I have my ups in downs in the belief of good in humanity. I'm a Christian though, and the Bible talks about not viewing problems in this world as a "people" problem but as a "sin/spiritual" problem. I just take it so personally at times when people 'let you down," but then I remember there's hope and good in the world and that it's all about regulating your attachments (some would call it idolatry) and emotions.

          I like your comment about your husband too - I agree.
          Last edited by ArtsyAngel63; October 11th, 2018, 01:45 PM.


          • #6
            We grew up Catholic and I consider myself Catholic in spirit but have a few other ideas of my own so what that makes me is up for question. In the end as Mother Theresa said, "It's never between you and them anyway. It's always been between you and God." If you have that spiritual relationship with God, that's all that matters. Everything else falls into place and you'll live your life according to some belief that there is a higher power and there is a difference between good and bad.

            You're not the only one who takes things personally but that means that you're living and you're breathing and you're not an automaton or a robot. If you have feelings you're still alive and if you have thoughts or dreams, you're still alive and you should put your life to use. If you have the courage to live the way you believe life ought to be lived, that's your call. I think God has given us that autonomy as a gift - part of being human. You're free to value or devalue it any way you choose during your life time. I think we are all here for a purpose and I think some people really do have callings to do good. In the end about the role model thing, you (hypothetical you, people in general) decide who you want to be and where you gain your strengths.


            • #7
              ArtsyAngel63 Well, I wish I could say m parents were role models but they weren't. My mother is 50% but I can't blame her since she grew up in a painfully dysfunctional, broken family life and my paternal grandfather was not in my father's life. Hence, my parents grew up messed up big time.

              Oddly enough, my MIL & FIL (mother & father-in-law) are my role models. FIL is GREAT, very moral and so honorable. Naturally, my husband and his brother grew up observing their amazing father so my husband is a great husband. Stability and normalcy are so important. Fathers teach their sons how to respect women. Great fathers and mothers teach their children how to be empathetic and children grow up watching their empathetic parents. I've since learned a lot from my in-laws because they're the complete opposite of my wretched home life from my childhood.

              My alcoholic, wife beater father passed away decades ago. He punched my mother's teeth out. My sister idolizes my father to this day. She is very sentimental and refuses to acknowledge what a beast he was towards my mother. I once missed him but I no longer respect and admire him due to the hellacious life he gave my poor mother. I struggled to reconcile those thoughts but I've grown to accept reality and know the difference between a dreamy memory my sister has of my father singing to her at the kitchen table and the permanent dried blood stains soaked into the living room rug courtesy of my wife beater father. I've since lost all respect for my late father forever.
              "If you bungle raising your children, whatever else you do well in life doesn't matter very much."


              • #8
                Chanelle, thanks for sharing - I'm sorry to hear about your parent's dysfunction but I am happy that you could find some redemption in that your MIL & FIL are good examples/role models to you.


                • #9

                  ArtsyAngel63 Thanks to you, too.

                  I've learned at this stage in my life that role models aren't always relatives especially when you compare them to people who are better and live by the honor code for life. I agree that everyone is flawed and I hear the same old story of "he or she or you or I aren't perfect." That's a cop out excuse. With all due respect, it's the same as saying, "Well it's ok what you did because I'm not perfect either." The "flawed" excuse gives free passes to those who've wronged us. The flaw in people is inexcusable when it's habitual, chronic disrespect especially when infractions are never cured. Flaws are too much and it continues repeatedly without any fixation in sight.

                  I'm pretty forgiving lot when there are minor transgressions, admittance, SINCERE apologies and fixed behavior in order to be honorable and do the right thing. I expect that in others because I do the same due to my conscience. The problem is when there is no conscience to be had and a complete flippant attitude of "I did nothing wrong" mindset. That's when my mind goes ballistic and I'm permanently done with perpetrators.

                  I choose role models based upon consistently honorable, moral behavior. I select people in my life who are even keeled, kind, considerate, empathetic, mentally healthy and stable. I stay away from "red flag people." Red flag people are highly emotional, unreasonable, lack logic, stubborn in a nasty way, wicked, evil and have a Jekkyl & Hyde personality. They're unpredictable, fake and phony. They're deceitful so beware.

                  I admire people who don't play mind games and head trips. I admire people who are not sneaky and tricky. These are the types of people whom I admire and respect are worth emulating. They most definitely share the same values, common sense and behaviors regarding treating others with utmost respect. The adhere to 'The Golden Rule:' "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

                  They're not necessarily famous. They're regular, very humble people in society whether it's my in-laws, some family members such as my brother and several friends. Yes, they've attained their goals I wish to aspire someday. I hope by now, they admire my character, too and I think they do as birds of a feather flock together.

                  I'm sure your uncle was a good man in your innocent 8 - 14 years old life back in the day but then again as a child, you don't know what an adult is until you yourself matures and learns how to think as you grow up. We were all naive once. As a child, you did not know about what your uncle did to your aunt and how his intolerable behavior impacted her life. Naturally, your uncle's image from your childhood was tarnished.

                  Alcoholism is often hidden. My next door neighbors who are a married couple are high functioning alcoholics. They have day jobs, own a house, drive 2 new cars and everything looks normal on the outside for the world to see. For a few years, I observed them as they discarded numerous bags of glass bottles of wine and beer DAILY. I never saw anyone drink THAT much. In order to hide their shame or stigma, they now discard their numerous bags of glass alcohol bottles at 5AM every morning under the cover of darkness. Every morning, I hear BAM, BAM, BAM noise as they dump their booze bottles. They're very narcissistic, too and have chronic "mouth problems, " always speak inappropriately, etc. I admired and looked up to them as role models when we first moved here but not anymore. Something is very off with them.

                  I hear you about rifts and I'm sorry. I know what that feels like because I have a BIL (bro-in-law) from hell and his wife, my sister always enables and defends him. Well, she must because she's dependent on Mr. Money Bags. He earns a high income and they reside in a $2mil house and she's certainly not going to discard her affluent lifestyle and her meal ticket for her 3 kids. Keep in mind, I had a great relationship with my sister before she married BIL from hell or her husband #2. (Her 1st marriage lasted only 8 months!)

                  It's better to stop searching, wishing and seeking a role model and become a role model yourself. If being a role model is so important to you, be the role model for others to look up to YOU in awe whether it's family members, in-laws, friends, people in your community, church, school or wherever. YOU be the role model and set a fine, prime example. It doesn't have to be you looking up to a role model. You be the role model instead. Be someone worth respecting and admiring just by being a very moral, honorable, very decent human being. Be a role model by having a good heart. Having those stellar characteristic traits makes you a role model and before you know it, so many people will secretly respect and admire you from afar or from knowing you. I'm sure you already are. I'm just saying you don't have to look for role models.

                  My own struggles and perspectives have changed as I've gotten older. I no longer glom onto others seeking their approval, seeking them out as my role models or wanting to copy them. I want to become my own person and be me. Be proud of your own behavior, always know who are are, be a good person and there will be no more major struggles and insecurities.

                  It's part of maturing. The problem is some people never grow up, never think, never have the word "empathy" enter their minds and never mature, unfortunately. Stay away from those types because they're lost causes and extremely hopeless. Once you learn how to be perceptive, you are the new role model for yourself and others.
                  "If you bungle raising your children, whatever else you do well in life doesn't matter very much."


                  • #10
                    I don't have and never had any role models.
                    Sure, when I was a child I followed most of what my parents and grandmother did and told to do, but as soon as I started having a more critical thought about the world around me I started following my own ideas, starting by abandoning Catholicism (most of my family's religion, I even used to go to the church with my grandmother, who lived with us) when I was 9 or 10 years old. Since then I just change when I think I'm doing something wrong or not good enough.

                    I don't care for famous people.


                    • #11
                      I choose my role models based on morals, values, similar beliefs, and how kind they are to people. To me, it does not matter if your role model is famous or not, it only matters if they are doing good in the world and want to make you strive to be a better person! Personally, I have not gone through what you have gone through with your uncle. I can see how characteristics would change your opinion on him being your role model. You did nothing wrong, you just had a change of heart. I hope everything with your aunt and uncle get better!