5 Reasons I Don't Believe in Role Models
Yeah, it's true; I don't believe in role models. I'm old enough to know that life and the decisions we make in life aren't simple. It's not easy to be a parent, friend or sibling. It's even harder being someone people worship and idolize.
When I was a kid, I heard Charles Barkley (NBA player with the Philadelphia 76ers) say "he wasn't a role model". At the time I thought to myself "but doesn't everyone want to be a role model? Isn't that something we should aspire to be?" While these were my internal thoughts, if you had asked young Kwame who her role models were, I wouldn't have been able to name anyone.
Role Models and Heroes Get a Raw Deal
The fact is role models, heroes and heroines get a raw deal. They're dragged on social media and in the news if they make the slightest misstep. The judgment our culture places on them causes such distress; it makes people think that we only want to see cookie cutter images of perfection, who must share our belief system while having no opinions of their own. This results in the creation of formulaic personas. We're essentially asking people to compartmentalize themselves. Be who I need you to for me and my spirit all the time...such a selfish demand.
The Problem with Hero Worshiping
Our culture wrongly deifies people. It's okay to respect and value accomplished people and their experiences, but don't put them on a pedestal. Celebrities, family members, teachers, bosses, historical figures, politicians, etc., they're mortals not gods. Human beings are flawed. Let's shift to respect and away from worship and idolatry.
You can be your own hero. We need to learn how to turn the hero worshiping and googly eyes onto ourselves. Identify qualities in yourself that you find admirable. Who knows this may increase your self-esteem and self-confidence.
Hero worship makes you susceptible to group think. During this election season, the trend has been to show blind allegiance even when candidates royally screw up. Fans blindly support athletes accused of sexual abuse while relentlessly attacking the victim. Celeb fans are even worse. The world doesn't need more blind followers. What we need are free thinkers who are capable of making independent decisions. Individuals who won't succumb to the euphoria of cult-like hero worship.
Role models are held to an impossible standard. Culturally, we seem to project our need for status and acceptance onto others. The transference of your need for love, status and acceptance onto someone else is just creepy. Dude, find your own way.
Admire qualities not people. I admire Oprah's perseverance, openness and business acumen, Michael Jackson's talent, Elizabeth Gilbert's vulnerability and way with words but I don't worship them, nor do I aspire to be them. I admire the qualities they have because these are qualities/attributes I see in myself. My hope is that we all start seeing people this way. Admire and respect but don't worship.
What are your thoughts on role models and hero worship? Would love to read your opinion, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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