Pronunciation: /rohl mod-l/
“Being a role model is about being true to myself” – Idina Menzel
Growing up being the youngest of three girls I always lived in the shadows of my sisters. For a long time, I believed my parents were handed a big bag of talents to hand to their children, but by the time I got there my sisters had divided the contents (unequally, apparently, as my middle sister always tells everyone she excels at basically everything – it’s hard to beat Superwoman, you know. Even if she doesn’t acknowledge your existence).
Anyway, the logic behind it is easy; I always had two older sisters around. They learned to read before me, and to write long before I learned to store my memories. They started unravelling the secrets of the world bit by bit, long before I even knew there were secrets to unravel. And so it happened automatically: I picked them as my role models.
Until yesterday, I basically assumed that whatever it was life would throw at them, I’d be able to observe and learn. And that no matter what happened to me, if I’d only act like either one of them (or, since the middle one still isn’t very talkative, act like the eldest), I’d grow up to be old and wise.
Long story short: I thought I wasn’t half as good, smart or beautiful as either of them, and that no matter what I’d do, I’d never ever live up to their potential.
As usual, I was wrong.
To be fair: I didn’t realise I felt this strongly about my sisters and the part they played, and play, in my life. But sometimes you need a little shaking up to see things in a different perspective. My shaking up (this time) was a gentle one: I was sitting on my bed, burning a rose scented candle and staring at the flame while listening to music on my iPod (this is my way of relaxing. Just me, my favourite songs and some earphones to block out the rest of the world). My gaze shifted from the candle to some of my stuffed animals (a few pandas here and there… and there), and that’s when it happened I realised that this all is who I am!
My personal energy is stored in every single item I have, and in everything I value. All my panda stuff, my taste in music, my silly scented candles, the pictures I keep in frames, my clothes hanging over my chair. Everything. It’s me. It all represents who I am.
It felt like I was watching myself through someone else’s eyes. And that’s when I realised another major change has occurred inside me.
When I was in high school (dark, dark times…), I remember having a conversation with a friend about what would happen if one day we’d meet ourselves. She said she’d probably end up being the best of friends with herself, because she thought she was great, whereas I was convinced I’d loathe and avoid myself, just to steer clear of the annoying young woman I felt I was.
Twelve years later, I am sitting on my bed and decide that I like the energy in my room. I like the silly person that I’ve become. I like the woman who collects panda stuff as if it’s gold or money. I like the idiot girl who travelled all the way to China just to feed her favourite animal. Who received a diploma for that and framed it with the Chinese characters facing forward, because even if she can’t read it, it’s genuine Mandarin and it’s a reminder of an amazing adventure.
And I admire her, too. How could I not? She’s put up such a fight over the past years, and look where she is now! Sure, things could be better, they always can. But given the circumstances… I say I did pretty well.
The evidence of how awesome I really am is in all the things that surround me. My collection of chick flick books in one corner shows I like a laugh (and to read), and my collection of English classics in the other corner proves I have a certain level of intellect, too.
I am crazy, yes, peculiar if you like. A bit nuts. No wait, make that completely nuts! But I like me. I like who I have become so far. I admire the woman who fought so hard to beat depression, and who, barely back on her feet, took on the massive task of caring for her mother. Who does what she believes in, with a passion, and who isn’t afraid to step on a plane and travel around, all on her own.
I did that all without my role models. I did it without anyone telling me what to do or how to do it. No examples, no guide books, nothing. Just me. I figured it out. I learned to read and write in my own time.
My epiphany told me this: I am not worse nor better than my sisters, and I don’t need to be. My life is incomparable to theirs, and that’s okay.
I’ll make it, I always do. They are no longer my role models. My role model is me, trying to be the best person I can. Everyday.
That diploma up there is my proof, my validation, that I am a great person, someone interesting who’s worth befriending.
You know what, I think that sixteen years past due, I finally made peace with myself.
I need to start burning rose scented candles more often ;)