The first time I met my best friend, it was at a tedious work event. As a part-time Gymnastics Coach, helping to officiate half-day Gymnastics competitions is a compulsory commitment that I am required to attend two – three times a year. This was my first time experiencing the behind the scenes chaos of competitions, and amongst a stuffy room of stressed out coaches, screaming children and enquiring parents, a fellow coach, who I now classify as my best friend, instantly captivated my attention. She stood out to me as charming, confident and self-assured. She was everything I had admired to be in contrast to my insecure, diffident 17-year-old self. At 2 years my senior, she expressed ‘unfashionable’ traits compared to the peers I surrounded myself with. She is one who knows how to demand, receive and handle attention, she attempts to conduct every possible work situation - even if it was her first time experiencing it, she knows how to turn a negative into a positive (out of everything) and she is not intimidated by others, no matter their status, appearance or wealth. Most admiringly, she is not scared to stand out for being her unique self, and as I was someone who severely struggled with this, she was the perfect friend and role model for me at this age.
Five years on, her guidance and positive energy have taught me to approach life selflessly, with love and optimism, no matter the circumstance. Her direct and firm, yet considerate approach of giving advice is unlike any that I receive from other friends or family. As a result of that, her encouragement has played a big part in life, from helping me overcome anorexia to convincing me to find the courage and motivation to diminish the unwavering doubt I had in my ability to graduate from university. She helped me break mental barriers on the way I saw myself and the world. All I can say is that I thank her for being a part contributor to the women I am today.
Reflecting on the impact of her influence, and my sudden urgency to respectably find guidance and inspiration from someone within my career path, especially after graduating from university, I have realised the importance and simplicity of role models. Firstly, it made me realise that as we evolve, so should our selection in role models. As we evolve and learn how to confidently approach circumstances we once feared and achieve goals we once perceived were unachievable, we can be grateful to those who we look up to as role models for mentoring us. However, when we move onto something more out of our depth (i.e. knowledge and experience), the insight and guidance from characters we have not encountered before, is not only important for growth, happiness and success but is also important for effectively helping us broaden our perspectives on ourselves, life and the world.
Second, to that, is an effective role model doesn't need to be the most publicised characters in the public eye. The current state of society portrays that those of beauty, financial freedom and status are the most fulfilled, which has us all looking towards them for a compelling amount of inspiration. However, the effectiveness of a role model should not be solely based on the rate of their success nor their success at all, and once this perception is dismantled it is simple to see that anyone has the capability of inspiring you. The extent of inspiration could be fuelled by years of wisdom from a family member or could be as small as a split encounter, a overheard phrase or an observed action from a stranger. There are no restraints on inspiration nor age, experience, time exchanged or relationship. It is the natural traits and attitudes that an individual exudes that will drive your personal development beyond your desired expectations. It could be their bravery, spontaneousness or confidence that you lack, crave to experience and admire to develop in your own way that could spark a wildfire that you thought you never had in you.