What "a role model" means
When I say "a role model", I mean a person whose behavior, lifestyle or principles you like so much, who you want to imitate, who inspires you. Ever since I can remember, I have always liked creative feminists who were able to achieve material well-being despite difficult circumstances. When I was a child, I easily fell under the spell of these people.
My cousin moved from the provincial town to the capital after her graduation and quickly became a successful producer. Considering that both our families - mine and her - were very poor, her success impressed me very much. We were in the same boat and she became the one I always wanted to be. I swore to myself to come up in the world "like Tanya". Even though we had our differences, we had completely different appearance and temperament, I can say with confidence: Tanya has always been my role model and still is.
Pros of imitation
As I understand, a role model is a certain standard, a goal, which I want to achieve. But it is not something imaginary and abstract, it is a living person who proved that the life of my dream is possible. Of course, we are all different and we cannot live identical lives, but having a direction in life motivates us to work on ourselves and to become who we want to be.
All people learn by imitating someone: everyone can tie laces, brush teeth and eat with a fork, because he/she was shown how to do it. So why not learn from person who amazes and inspires you? Maybe your role model is not an example of success in the traditional sense of the word, maybe he/she doesn’t have a three-storey villa in the Maldives and a red Porsche. But even if he/she makes you want to learn how to perform in public or to knit scarfs just like him/her, I do not see anything wrong with imitating him/her and even copying something. Many well-known singers sang songs of other artists and parodied their singing style at the beginning of their careers, and only with time they came up with something unique and special.
I think that one person can have several role models, because we function in different spheres (home, work, hobbies, etc.) and behave differently in different situations (for example, a woman can be gentle with her husband at home, but strict and demanding to her colleagues at work). Despite the fact that since childhood I wanted to be like my cousin, I was fortunate enough to work with people who I wanted to imitate in my professional life. For example, during my ESC I met experienced facilitator and realized that I want to do the same and to become a successful professional like her.
Dangers of imitation
When you have a successful role model, it is important not to envy. Keep in mind that people who you look up to probably faced the challenge of treading a long and difficult path towards becoming who they are. External success is only one side of the coin, but you hardly know which price your role model had to pay for it. Moreover, the envy is not constructive, and if you want to take the best of people, you should admire them, not to hate them for their advantages.
Previously, I was sure that I want to move to Kyiv, just like my cousin: when I was a child, she told me a lot about this city, she loved it very much. I tried to build my life in Kyiv several times, but I did not succeed. And only now I realize that it was not really my dream, Kyiv is my cousin's dream city. I had an extremely good life in Lviv. It turned out that I stopped listening to my needs in pursuit of someone else's life.
People need to admire other people wisely: you will never become someone else, you are who you are, and other people are who they are. When you imitate your role model, the most important thing is not to lose yourself. It is important constantly reflect on and ask yourself: What is the difference between me and my role model? How different are our baselines (talent, social status, environment, etc.)? What exactly do I want to imitate and what I should not imitate? If you are fond of a famous rock star who sings beautifully but uses drugs and beats his wife, it is not necessary to start doing the same. There are no perfect people or perfect lives, and role models are not perfect.
It is likely that you will never succeed in becoming "like someone". But there is only one consolation here: you don't have to become "like someone", you have to become yourself by taking the best from people who inspire you.
Relationships between you and your role model
My role model - my cousin - died in 2017. She was only 33. I never told her that she was an example for me. And I regret it very much. It is important to tell your role models, when possible, that they inspire you. These people can advise you how to reach the same level. It is not a shame to admire people openly. They will probably share valuable experience with you, support and help you in return.
If your role models are out of reach for you (because of distance, status, etc.) - try to explore their life, talk to someone from their inner circle, if they are famous - read their bio or interview. Try to understand what were the reasons of their success (talent, good fortune, useful contacts, etc.),"borrow" their best qualities. I am sure that wise imitation of successful people, with thinking about your own characteristics and needs - it is not a shame. It is a shame not to try to become a better version of yourself.
The role model crisis in Europe and in the world
The concept of a role model is linked to the concept of leadership, because charismatic and confident people are always attracted to others, they can influence the masses, inspire actions.
Recently, the world and Europe have been talking about the crisis of leadership, especially the crisis of political leadership . There is no Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln in 2019. Among the leaders of the modern world - Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orban, Kim Jong-un. Recently elected president of my country is former comedian Volodymyr Zelensky. People sincerely admire them, vote for them, support their political courses. At the same time, media regularly report scandals and odious statements authored by mentioned politicians.
Among the reasons why such politicians come to power are modern political technologies and methods of propaganda, personal charisma of this politicians, demand for more decisive leadership, the growth of nationalism in the world [2, 3, 4, 5, 6].
Everyone has right to choose personal role models, everything here depends on our personal goals and taste. But choice of political leaders affects the life of the whole country and even of the world. When we elect politicians, we elect managers who will represent our interests at the national level. Being leaders of the country is their job, for which they receive considerable money. It's good when politicians can inspire people, but also we should be critical when we choose leaders of our countries along with our personal role models "from the people".