What It Means To Be A Role Model

Posted by on December 6, 2012
Reflecting by the lake  (c) Arianna's Random Thoughts

Reflecting by the lake (c) Arianna’s Random Thoughts

Someone asked me “Who are your role models?”, and to be honest, I had a hard time answering it.  I couldn’t think of very many females of my generation (i.e., in their twenties) who I wanted to aspire to be like.  The person who asked me the question was looking for examples of famous people.

I have had encounters with some famous people who I looked up to when I was a child, but when I met them in person years later, they were unfriendly and standoffish. I lost respect for them as the image they portray in the media is disconnected from the real version of themselves.  There are many people that are the same onscreen as they are in person; those I respect and model after.

The reason I struggled with answering the question was because to me a role model doesn`t necessarily mean a famous person.  Fame doesn’t equal success.  There are many successful individuals who aren’t famous.

Dictionary.com defines a role model as “a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others.” Personally, I think the term means so much more than that. People may look up to you as their role model, but I think it should not be looked at as a one-way role.  You, in a position of leadership, should give back as relationships are two ways.

I wholeheartedly believe that when you are given such a powerful and influential position to others – you should value it.  It’s important that if you have arrived at a successful point in your life, you should remember your past and think of the obstacles you went through to get there.

(c) Arianna`s Random Thoughts

(c) Arianna`s Random Thoughts

Some people have called me their role model; I am humbled and honoured, and this a big deal for me as I take that position seriously.

I used to think being a role model was tough. Being in this position, I felt like I had to do everything perfectly as others were watching me and I had to show them the way and teach them.  I never had an older sister to help me and show me the way – and I have had to depend on role models.  As an eldest daughter, I went through every major milestone (almost always) first, and therefore wanted to be a good example to my sisters.

Since the age of two and a half, I have been a sister. I have only for a very short period of time in my life (one where I don’t remember) not had important people who were younger than me to look out for. I have never had it any other way, so I don’t know really how NOT to think of others.  As an eldest child, you are a leader and teach by example as your younger siblings are always watching and learning from you (either what to do or what not to do).

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I am the eldest of three daughters, and I take the position of older sister quite seriously (you can ask my sisters).  My beautiful sisters are always on my heart, and I want to empower them to be the best they can.  It should be noted – that these two women are role models to me as well, as we learn from each other.  Their strength, courage, and passion for humanity inspires me.

Two of the most important lessons I have learned on my journey are to persevere and to talk about issues.  I am not perfect, have obstacles on my path, and make mistakes.  I have also been a talker to them and would rather talk about issues than keep them inside.

Talking about difficult subjects, digging deep, and being real – can cause confrontation and sometimes disputes arise.  I would rather have these disagreements and talk than say nothing.  I am real with my sisters and they are with me.  Sometimes their words hurt; but it’s important to talk than to be silent.

For years, I have been masking the process I have gone through and haven’t shared it with others.  I was too focused on being the perfect version of myself that I lost the message.  It takes courage to listen to your inner voice and speak up and for many years I didn’t have the strength to do so.

After a long process, I found my answer to the initial question. To me, my role models are individuals who have the courage to be real, to be vulnerable, to be themselves, and to share their journeys.

We can all learn from each other. Connecting with others on a deep level is very important.

We can all learn from each other. Connecting with others on a deep level is very important.

Thank you to my wonderful role models for helping me learn these important life lessons! Who are your role models?

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!

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19 Responses to What It Means To Be A Role Model

  1. Sharleen Hoar, Performance Psychology Consultant

    Beautiful post and tribute to your relationship with your sisters. I’ve never thought of role modelling as a two-way street but I think you may be on to something. I’ve never considered the impact that I may have had (I’m an eldest too!) on my sisters. I know how each has inspired me, particularly as adults. Now you have me thinking….

  2. Arianna Merritt, M.Ed.

    Thanks Sharleen! I learned that a long time ago and keep getting reminded of it so I had to share it. I never realized the impact I had on my sisters until they told me. I look at role models as a two-street as they are relationships whether you want them to be or not. Thanks for being a role model to me :)

  3. Heather Grace Stewart

    What a great post. We try not to say three f words in this home – the obvious one, ‘fame’ and ‘fat’ – the last two being never uttered by me so my little girl won’t think either are that important –however she hears them both so often she knows them now …so we talk about those words often. I love that you agree with me success does not = fame. That’s one reason why two of my greatest role models are my parents, who are famous to me! I also want to be like some of my dearest friends and other family members. Thanks for the great post (and yes go ahead and use my Youtube video clip anywhere! )

    • Arianna Merritt, M.Ed.

      Thanks for reading and for your beautiful comment. I will for sure use the video. Love your wisdom. So glad we connected. I think its awesome that you are teaching your daughter what is important – about what to value and also to have honest real conversations. Not done enough. Kudos to you awesome lady! I have so many role models too! They teach me so much – most importantly to be myself :)

  4. ziggy40

    Role models, for some time I felt they needed to be someone, ‘famous’. As I have matured, and grown though my own struggles, I have realized for myself, role models, to me are people who have WORKED hard to get though life crisis, these people have to me lead by example. One person stands out, this is a nurse who shared her story with me, when the world looked black. She showed me , by ‘doing’ that there was light at the end of the tunnel, she will remain in my heart for ever. I believe we can all learn from each other. This topic has got me thinking, I would also say , ‘Oprah’ is a role model to me, she shares, this is a quality I love, someone who can let themselves be vunerable, and RISK being judged. In general the world is quick to judge, I think if someone can stand up for there values, show a beauty I love, I try to be authentic, it’s not easy!

    • Arianna Merritt, M.Ed.

      Thanks for the awesome comment! I totally agree. That is one of the reasons I started the “Profiles of Perseverance” interview series – to share stories of how people overcame the obstacles in their lives. I think it’s important to know that we aren’t the only ones who are going through the situation. Having someone who has been in your position and will truly listen and reassure you that it gets better – is so valuable. It really does bring light to life, when it can be dark. Thank your for sharing your stories :) Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  5. Jim Gibson

    Very good blog. My role models would have to be Billy Graham, and a prof at university named Denny Lynch.

  6. Tara Jacek

    I’ve been looking for a role model lately. It’s hard to remember that sometimes that we all make mistakes. The important thing is to choose people who hold the values you do.

    • Arianna Merritt, M.Ed.

      Thanks, Tara! Totally agree with you. It is hard to remember that you’re role models WILL make mistakes as they are human. I think the important part to watch and learn from too is how they recover from the mistake. You really can learn lessons everywhere :) Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

  7. ameliaclaire92

    You’ve inspired me to write a role models post later today. :)

  8. Lydia @ See Beautiful

    Arianna, it is beautifully clear how we see the world similarly now! I, too, am an oldest sister and cannot remember the day I wasn’t looking out for another – what a gift in life this has been. I think you hit the nail on the head when mentioning how role models can change in life, given where we are in our growth, and where the other is as well. There are some who remain stagnant role models – for me my parents – and there are some who change given where we are. To remain a stagnant role model, either for another or to another, is a beautiful gift to this life. Thank you for such a beautiful post to invite us to reflect on the type of person we can be for others.

  9. happymindformula

    Great post and an excellent reminder to us all about what is important in life. Thank you

  10. Anne-Sophie (@aMINDmedia)

    Such an important topic, Arianna. Role models are far and few between these days, but like you, I believe that REAL people who have the courage to be vulnerable and be authentic are the true heros of our time. There’s so much fake out there, especially here in the blogosphere. So many people who act one way and then turn around and throw you under the bus (happened to me a few weeks ago). I believe that it’s up to use to be role models and if we all behaved as role models, this world would be a better place. I try to live up to my values every day and of course, I fall short every day too, but I’m always real and honest. Sharing your struggles, as well as your successes is part of being a role model. I think we all can be role models – if only we made an effort.

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