role models

You can’t affect nature or nurture, but you can choose your role models. You can’t pick who your parents were, but you can choose whom you would have wanted them to be. These words of wisdom are often attributed to Seneca the Younger (I think), and probably to many others too.

I pick and choose some peoples’ traits and construct a sort of synthesis out of them. I know there is not a person who possesses only good characteristics, but I also acknowledge I don’t know anyone’s vices entirely either. So I tell myself these negative traits are always present and don’t hold myself up to some impossible standard.

The problem with perfect and virtuous characters is that they’re not that interesting. I find antiheroes or otherwise flawed characters the most compelling ones in fiction. Don Draper, Walter White, Joe MacMillan on TV. Likely all Chuck Palahniuk’s characters. Batman instead of Superman. The point is that flaws make us human, and while most of these examples possess genuinely unwanted characteristics, they’re the reason we’re fascinated by them.

A perfect companion, colleague, friend or associate also reveals our faults, perhaps even highlights them. It’s easier to be with someone who shares some of you’re weaknesses and exists at the same level. So, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t reach the ideal role model you have created or the public persona of someone you look up to. Changes are that the real person, living or dead, isn’t what they’re made up to be. The ideal synthesis is only a vision that you can never reach, but only a horizon in your journey.

I look for qualities such as wisdom, discipline, tact, curiousness, dependability, integrity, rhetorics, etc. Things I want to enforce in myself, but also things I like to improve on and learn. As I go about my life, I keep these characters in my mind as I make decisions and choices, and plan my future.

One of your role models should be someone you know, that you can spend time with them. It’s the fastest and surest way for you to develop into that which you want to become. You become the people you spend the most time with, and so on. And if your parents happen to be your role models and chance did some picking on your behalf, all the better.

 
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