Signing with my first agent at the age of twelve, I have been immersed in the industry of film, modeling, music, pageantry, and social media. While training and working to be an actress, model, and singer, I attended junior high, high school and later, university. As my name became more known, people began asking me to speak to their communities or be a guest speaker at special events. My very first speaking gig was during National Addictions Awareness Week on the topic of alcohol and drug abuse and their close relationship to suicide. My second speaking gig was simply sharing my story with my peers. This included overcoming bullying and racism, how alcohol and drugs have affected my life, overcoming negative experiences and building self-esteem.
From age twelve to eighteen, I continued to do auditions, model locally and internationally, perform, train, speak, volunteer, compete, and attend special events. As well as complete junior high, graduate high school, and later enroll into university. From the perception of others, all of these experiences and hours of dedication have created an “example.”
An example is a pattern or model, as of something to be imitated or avoided. In today’s society, we have numerous examples labeled “Role Model.” In my perception, this term can be positive but also very negative.
To me, these life experiences and achievements do not define who I am. To me, the people with similar life experiences, my peers, are not defined by their accomplishments either. I never asked to be a “role model.” It was never a goal of mine. My goal has always been to live life to the fullest. To simply live, live a life I don’t need a vacation from.
In my perspective, I live a normal life. I follow my path by listening to the signs of the universe and paying close attention to what my spirit and gut instincts tell me. However, every individual perceives “normal” differently. My normal is following my dreams, working hard to obtain my goals, crossing things off of my bucket list, doing everything I want to do and more.
A “role model” to me is not what I see on the surface of someone’s life. It is the rawness of one’s own survival for a life that they desire. It is the obstacles they have conquered, the fear(s) they have overcome and continue to overcome, the mistakes they have beat themselves up over, the mistakes they have made and learned from, the amount of times they had to get back up after hitting rock bottom, the losses they have mourned, the hard work they have had to endure in order to come up with enough money, the broken pieces of heart that they have had to collect and put back together by themselves, the addiction(s) they have fought and continue to fight, the selflessness for one's family or friends, the changes they have made even though they were afraid and the ability to wake up each morning and still try to move forward in life.
I look up to the people who follow their dreams, reach their goals, work hard to be their own kind of successful, do all of the things they want to do, when they want to do it and how they want to do it, undergo the rawness of survival, surpass fear and failure, makes mistakes, learn, develop personally and professionally, overcome challenges, follow their heart, travel, and do whatever is self-fulfilling. I look up to the people who embrace being human.
I dislike the term “role model” because it forces people to live up to a certain “standard” of living that isn’t genuine. This “standard” prohibits people from being human and it does not allow room for mistakes. Instead, it provides failure for both the “role model” and the people who look up to that “role model.”
I never had a “role model” and I never will. I’ve looked up to a number of people who are both in the spotlight and not in the spotlight. I look up to these people not because they’ve been on TV or won a title, I look up to them because of their growth, strength, courage, hardships, and obstacles they’ve overcome. I look up to them because they still behave humanly knowing that there are thousands of people watching them. That person doesn’t let a single soul’s opinion get in the way of their happiness.
I have always wanted to be my best possible self. I do not want to be labeled a “role model” but I am certainly flattered if there are people who look up to me.
You must always remind yourself that the people you look up to are human. The only things that people pay attention to are the things on the outside. People are envious, malicious, or praiseful to what is only a thin layer of one's true self. However, they are no different than you and you have everything it takes to be where they are or even further than where they are.
For me I look up to someone who has fear but takes the leap of faith anyways. Everyone’s fears are different yet common. I will admit that I fear the judgment of others, I fear failure, I fear success, I fear love, I fear hate, I fear commitment, and I fear change. But I constantly remind myself that the only way for true growth to happen is if you step outside of your comfort zone, forget about convenience, forget about judgment, and take the route less safe. Fear is one of our biggest setbacks or holdbacks and it is not very often that a person has enough courage to go after their dreams.