In the words of J. Cole, “No role models and I’m here right now.” Okay, I just wanted to say that to sound cool. To be frank, I only somewhat resonate with this quote because my relationships with role models is a little different than most people’s. I’ve never had a role model per se. No offense to celebrities or those who look up to them, but though there are a few I admire, there are none I can say influenced who I wanted to become.
I would define a role model as someone that you look up to. Additionally, I’ve always thought of a role model as someone who can influence you to be a better person when you don’t feel like being one – when you feel like being lazy or sloppy or want to half-ass something. A role model can lift you up out of that rut because they inspire you to be like them.
Growing up, I can honestly say I never had a role model. There wasn’t any one person out there whom I looked up to in my childhood. I simply got by with what my mother taught me, which was not to be lazy, have good manners, and be the best. Not try my best. Nope. My mother wanted me to just be the best at everything I did. I frequently disappointed her in that particular arena, but I did my best.
It was when I got into my teens that I began to subconsciously look up to certain people. This is where it gets interesting. The people I looked up to were always girls who were my age or maybe a little older, but they were doing big things with their lives. What do I mean by big things? There was one girl who was a beauty queen (by which I mean she competed in and won beauty pageants) who also graduated high school early, got into college early, danced ballet, and did every possible extra-curricular known to man – including playing the drums (um, what?!) There was another beauty queen who got into the university of my dreams and was just. so. kind. when I met her. There was a girl who was a track star and was so beautiful, you just wanted to stare at her face. There was a girl who was so gorgeous that she smiled at me once and I went and cut my hair like hers the next day. I looked up to her for years and years. She was a beauty queen, too.
Yes, I realize all these girls were beauty queens. I will admit I’ve always had a fascination with beauty pageants, although my stance on them has changed over the years. Yes, I consider all these girls to be beautiful, but they were also extraordinary in other areas and THAT is what intrigued me. They were multi-faceted. They were intelligent. They handled themselves with poise. They seemed to have it all together. They were talented. They were kind. Their hair was never out of place. They dressed cool. They were strong. Most of them were friends of mine.
I’ve always looked up to women around me because they come from the same place I do and they did more. They didn’t settle for complacency in a place where complacency is accepted. They didn’t make themselves small, but rather took up space with confidence. They were always so confident.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, this is a love letter to my role models, even though I’ve never disclosed who you are. This is a love letter to the women around me and around you that are doing their best and are killing it. I may never have said it to anyone, but I wanted to be just like you. And wanting to be like you has made me who I am today.
Today has its own role models. Today there is a woman who started her own law firm and is killing it. She’s younger than I am and she hit the ground running right after passing the bar exam. There’s a woman who is a yoga instructor and a therapist and an all around badass. There’s a woman who founded a group of musicians and entrepreneurs. There’s countless female attorneys who have paved the way for me and are my ultimate girl crushes. There’s the same women I looked up to when I was younger.
And what I’m trying to say is to look around. It’s easy to look up to someone famous or some icon from the past. There’s nothing wrong with that – I love me some Frida Kahlo and Audrey Hepburn. But don’t forget to appreciate the girls and the women who aren’t on magazine covers or are Instagram influencers, but who are still worthwhile.
My role models have always been the ones who surround me. I know they’ll continue to make me better.