“You’re a great role model!” how that phrase twists me up inside.
Really, it is a great compliment, and I should be honored that it seems to be haunting me. Parents see me as someone they want their daughter to be like, youth see me as an example for them to follow; cool? Sure, but “terrifying” seems the more appropriate adjective.
I think my negative reaction to being placed in a role model-role is two fold.
Number One: What are these people thinking? They obviously don’t know me that well if they consider me such a great example.
Number Two: Increased sense of responsibility. Dang it. This role-model thing means that people are watching what I do and how I live, looking up to me even. I suppose that would make me a sort of leader, which just highlights the already present truth that my decisions and actions affect more than just me.
*insert internal struggle to get over myself here…*
Somewhere in the 16th century, John Donne coined the phrase: “No man is an island.” But wouldn’t it be wonderful if he could be? A beautiful tropical island that could be and do whatever he pleased without influencing or affecting anything or anyone? In all reality, no, that would be terrible. In community and fellowship humanity is able to thrive. However, as much as our positive actions build and support each other, our negative actions tear down and weaken. Back to the role model thing…
[definitions provided by alissa…]
Role-modelitis – the human condition/tendency to follow, regardless of their personal level of independence or individual leadership abilities and uniqueness. Everyone is following someone. Even those who have not consciously selected role models are continuously being influenced by those who surround them. Therefore, we are all role models for someone, probably many someones. The role model responsibility cannot be escaped.
Role-modelphobia – the fear of accepting that responsibility based off the knowledge that said role model is far from a perfect example to be modeled after, as well as the fact that decisions and actions of said role model affect and influence negatively as well as positively.
Reconciling the two – we are all role models; whether I like it or not. It is therefore in the best interest of both myself and the rest of the world for me to accept the reality and responsibility that I am a role model and act as such.
Great. Problem solved. Do I have to?