A Good Role Model Is Hard to Find

Woman crying

Image by Mohamed Itani via Flickr/Creative Commons

Almost everyone I admire is either fictional or dead. Maybe this shouldn’t be a big deal because I at least have nonliving people to look up to, but there’s a significant gap between Pablo Neruda and me, between John Lennon and me, between King Solomon and me. Holden Caulfield, Batman, and Donnie Darko can only help me as much as their stories allow. This is not about gender. This is about accessibility. I can’t talk to them.

I also can’t witness how they would react to today’s society. Would Neruda write a song of despair for today’s self-centric youth? Would John still be singing “Give Peace a Chance” to a population whose tempers flare at the first words that even slightly resemble an accusation? Would Solomon be wise enough to answer me?

These people were hardly perfect, but that’s not the point. Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges once said of Neruda, “I think of him as a very fine poet, a very fine poet. I don’t admire him as a man, I think of him as a very mean man.” John was notorious for his substance abuse, he beat his wife, and he was a deadbeat father. Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. (Was one woman not enough to handle?) Despite their flaws, they each stood for something. Neruda: love. John: peace. Solomon: wisdom.

I look at today’s icons and am more often disgusted than awestruck. Who are we supposed to look up to? Robin Thicke? The Kardashians? Miley Cyrus? I hope not. What do they stand for, if anything?

It’s particularly hard to find female role models.

My family isn’t full of people I would call role models either. That leaves me blindly making decisions based on intuition.

However, I’m lucky. I have teachers who are genuinely good people, people who are open-minded and aware enough to juggle the hardships of life and unearth the beauty of being human. People who try to create a positive environment when comfort can’t be found elsewhere. They find balance, and while that is still something I’m searching for, it’s something I can aspire to have because I know it’s possible. I can sit back and think, If I am someday as satisfied with my life as he is, I will be okay.

What makes a good role model? Maybe you can answer that. I can’tbut I can show you what it’s not.

As for society, I can only hope that it will eventually learn the meaning of the word “admirable.”

Adriane About Adriane

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