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3 Things I Learnt About Role Models & (Not) Following Them Unthinkingly

Posted: August 31, 2020

Simply copying your role model can lead you to lose confidence in yourself. Instead, learn to apply the best from many people!

Most of us have a role model – someone whom we admire, and aspire to become. We have that one hero, whom we are in awe of, who inspires us, whom we try to imitate and emulate as much as we can. Their life fascinates us and, knowingly or unknowingly, we end up worshipping them (maybe literally), quietly craving to achieve what they have achieved.

Role models can be celebrity role models (like sports persons, actors, leaders, and so on) or any person around you who has managed to sweep you off your feet by their achievements/ personality/ traits and can include a teacher/ parent/ sibling or any other person you may know.

But what happens if your hero lands up in some trouble? Ends up doing something wrong? Or if they die by suicide? Do your life goals and ambitions then get affected? Do you lose the zeal to achieve what you really craved for in the beginning? Somewhere, does your subconscious mind constantly knock at you saying that if your hero gave in, then there is no chance you can make it?

We have seen celebrity suicides leading to some of their fans trying the same, probably because they could not find the purpose to their life anymore.

Okay, maybe these cases are a bit extreme. For now, let us concentrate on the cases where your role model is accessible – someone whom you meet almost regularly.

Your hero could discourage you

In such cases what happens, if your hero ends up discouraging you? Tells you that you are delusional to be so ambitious about your life? That maybe you are not worth it and should not try your hand at it? What if your hero does not respect your ambition and appreciate your efforts, something which you are longing for, something which will shoot your confidence to the skies and make you ready to rule the world?

Maybe your hero does not have any malicious intent, but what if they believe that you do not have the potential and think that they should give you the right advice because you went to them, looking for validation?

What would you do? Accept what your role model said?

Maybe you do, because, your role model is the ultimate super-human in your life. The superhero without a cape, capable of doing something which you probably can only dream of! May be you are so floored by the person, that you believe every word they say about you because, in your eyes, they can never go wrong!

But, how fair is it to place your absolute trust in one person and conduct your life according to what they think of you? Is it even possible that they know you better than you know yourself? Possibly not!

Hero worshipping or the trust that a person unknowingly puts in their hero, is sometimes such that they lose trust in their own self, relying only on their hero’s judgment. They somehow internalize their hero’s comments and remarks and hush their own inner voice.

Placing your ability to achieve your dreams in those few encouraging words by your hero can be very detrimental and life altering in some cases. Placing your confidence and self-worth on what someone else thinks of you can be extremely risky!

Every person comes from a different background, and faces different situations and events in life. And so every person’s story to success can be different and may be achieved at a different stage in life. Trying to replicate your role model’s life may not really work for you the same way. You may have to customize it according to your life situations along with having faith in your ability to achieve it, no matter whatever your hero tells you or does in his/her/their personal life.

Should heroes/role models then exist in one’s life?

Placing too much reliance on one person may not be very healthy (mentally) for a person and, hence maybe one should be their own hero.

Learning the hard way and having a fair share of my struggles I stopped looking up to anyone in particular. Reposing my faith and trust in just one person, and waiting incessantly for that person to appreciate my efforts, has had catastrophic effect on my self-worth.

I believe in only three things now:

Having confidence in yourself

If you place your trust in yourself, then nobody else can make or break you. I really love the quote from the movie Pursuit of Happiness that Will Smith tells his son, “Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. Not even me”. This quote constantly reminds me to be confident about myself to achieve my dreams and that it should not matter what others think of you.

Acquire something good from everyone

Every person has some good traits which can be picked and imbibed in life.  It is important that we open our eyes and be perceptive to such goodness in every person. This should not be restricted to only successful or powerful people, but every person you meet. It can be children or even your (household?) helper.

Out of the many things I have learned from various people, one crucial thing I learned is from my ‘parlour didi’ – who comes home. She is extremely dedicated to her work and aspires to move forward in her ‘career path’ even after 20 years of working. My ‘parlour didi’ had started her work with basic parlour services but over the years she has increased her professional offerings which include all services that a posh salon in a market would provide.

She works relentlessly 7 days a week and rarely takes an off. She attends seminars on new makeup techniques and other trends in her field. She understands her clients’ needs and wants to be a one stop solution for them. Her hard work is paying her in the form of a huge client base, which even local salons find difficult to break. She is my hero in teaching me this – whatever your work may be, you should take it seriously and work hard to keep updating your knowledge and skills for better services.

Some may find it absurd to think of how a ‘parlour didi’ can teach you to be dedicated, passionate and ambitious about your career. But she did!

To be the best, remember to pick many heroes that teach you what they are best at!

Strive to be a better version of yourself

Apply all those good traits that you have learnt from various people in your life, customize them according to your situation and strive to do better each day. You know your struggles, your challenges and your advantages. You do not know these factors about other people. Hence, you can never do a fair comparison of your progress to others.

Rather than comparing and competing with someone else, competing with your own self would lead to greater growth and happiness. This would lead to more satisfaction and increased self confidence when you would look back at your own journey.

This is my personal take on role models; I would love to hear your side of the story too.

Photo by Paras Upadhyay from Pexels

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A Chartered Accountant by qualification but a writer by passion. Apeksha has authored the book '

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