The vast majority of us have some sort of role model. They’re the people we admire, that we want to be, or be like! The reasons are different to everyone and their role models, but for me it’s simple:
They’re a person that’s done something that struck a chord with me, and made me change how I live my life. That, is what a role model is to me.
I never really had role models growing up, there was no one I could identify as one. It wasn’t until a few years ago I began to understand it. My first role model was Steve Irwin, as an animal lover and reptile fan he was an obvious choice. I suppose I looked up to him as a child, he was charismatic, enthusiastic and very over the top. but looking back, I looked up to him for the wrong reasons, I don’t agree with many of his methods now that I’m learning my own animal handling skills. He disturbed dangerous animals and took massive risks on both his part and the part of the animals. He had the best intentions, but grabbing an Inland Taipan (thats a snake to you) by the tail isn’t really necessary.
Steve was heavily criticised up to and after his death in 2006, but I still admire him. He had an enthusiasm not many TV personalities had at the time (bar Greenpeace but they don’t count). He showed that dangerous animals are not out to kill us, and that they’re to be respected not feared. I have work experience once a week with reptiles in Trabolgan. Even though the parents are terrified of snakes and the kids have never heard of ‘The Crocodile Hunter’, I still try spread Steve’s message: Respect not Fear.
I can fit David Attenborough in for the same reasons as Steve, educating people about the natural world and showing them how beautiful it can be and that we can live in harmony with. (Sorry if I sound like a hippie)
We’ve all been through tough times and maybe even felt that all hope is lost, life hands us a heavy hand and we get knocked down. Jim Stynes was an Aussie Rules player for Melbourne who was at the peak of his career when he was dealt a very heavy hand. He moved from Ireland at 18 after playing GAA and became one of the best Rules players of all time, played 244 consecutive games. He was also a charity worker creating the Reach Foundation for young people in disadvantaged area’s.
Neither his sportsmanship or his philanthropism interests me. In 2009 he was diagnosed with Melanoma cancer, which started as a lump on his back, and quickly spread to his lungs and brain. He was given 9 months to live, but survived 2 years longer than expected by combining alternative cures with conventional medicine. His struggle was told in the ‘Every Heart Beats True‘ documentary, which is easily the most moving thing I’ve seen. What I took from watching the documentary and reading his book, is a positive attitude and alternative outlook on life can make all the difference. Well worth a watch!
The last real role model I have is just your average tattoo and piercing obsessed, drama-queen, journalism student from Belmullet: Michaela Deane. Don’t get a big head Michaela!
I’ve never actually met Mic, she’s one of these twitter friends i mentioned in my social media article, but still such an inspiration. I first came across ‘The Twitter girl’ from the LC 2014 page where she was a shepherd to the thousands of hopelessly lost sheep we were in the lead up to the Leaving Cert! She suffers Anxiety too and gave me strength through the tough days, just reading her tweets every day helped knowing someone else knew what it was like, and supported me when I needed it most.
When I wanted to write an article on my experience with Anxiety and Depression Mic posted it anonymously on her own blog Lies and Bowties as part of a mental health series. Under the wing of the mother hen I got the confidence to post it on my blog, and it’s confidence I still carry with me and helps me every day doing the smallest things.
Michaela said I should title the article “Why I worship Michaela Deane“. Well I just can’t do that I’m afraid, Princess or Queen it just isn’t fair to poor old Steve, David and Jim to have you steal all the limelight! In all seriousness though, Mic is one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever not met, a leader in the mental health campaign for young people and a successful Journalist at such an early stage. But she’s also a friend, and a good one at that. I owe her a lot.
Of course these aren’t the only people I look up to; My friends, family and workmates all shape who I am in their own ways. I try take something from everyone I meet, be it good or bad. I think if you don’t learn something from the people you meet they’re not worth meeting in the first place.
We learn from everyone, but follow a few.