Childhood heroes. They inspired us to be better people. They influenced the kind of person that we wanted to grow up to be. They played a key role in our Halloween costume choices, and they could be clearly seen on the walls of our childhood bedrooms. We wanted to dress like them, talk like them, do the same things as them, and eventually grow up to be just like them. For some kids that meant that they wanted super strength like Superman, or to unmask monsters like Scooby-Doo. But for me, that meant that I wanted to buy a magnifying glass, break out the knee socks, and solve mysteries like Nancy Drew.
There were very few things in little Katherina’s life that were better than reading (but if you’re wondering, the only thing better than reading was horses. But the absolute best thing was reading about horses!), and Nancy Drew was the ultimate companion. She was smart, witty, could pick any lock, decipher any code, and stared bad guys right in the eye without flinching. She was essentially the female version of Sherlock Holmes, and I loved her. I collected every book that I could get, and I read them all with ferocious intensity. I learned to be strong and independent, while still relying on help from your friends. I learned to come up with your own solutions to problems, but that sometimes you need to follow the advice of others. And most importantly I learned to never let your success go to your head, but rather to put the needs of others first.
What we consume as children eventually will manifest itself in us as adults. When we are given good role models (whether real or fictional) as children, we will strive to become like them when we grow up. That is why it is so important for us to not only provide the children in our lives with edifying fictional role models but to also be ones. Kids are most impressionable in their formative years, and as adults, we need to be mindful of how we behave around the kids in our lives. Are we showing them how to treat others with dignity and decency? Are we using words that build others up rather than tearing them down? Are we using our gifts and talents to better the lives of those around us, or simply to improve our own lives? What we do, no matter how big or how small, is what they will see. And what they see, even if they don’t understand the deeper motives behind it, is what they will imitate.
We have an obligation to provide the next generation with positive and uplifting role models. But not only that, we have an obligation to showing everyone around us a way of living that is worth imitating. Every single word that we say and action that we do is visible to those who live and work with us. If we choose to only be a decent human being when important people are around and then become the complete opposite when we enter our living rooms, are we really embodying the uplifting way of life we aim to inspire?
Being a positive role model (or a real life superhero if you will) is a tall order. And to be totally honest it’s quite the daunting task most of the time. But I don’t know of any superheroes that had an easy go of it, or who didn’t have to work at maintaining their positive impact on the world. It’s not an easy task to do, but it is a worthwhile one. There are countless people in our lives (both young, old, and somewhere in between) that are desperately seeking someone to show them how they are supposed to act. Maybe that someone they’re looking to is you. Maybe by your actions and words, you can inspire someone to strive to become a better version of themselves.
So break out the capes and masks, and the knee socks and magnifying glasses…or maybe just your favourite hoodies and jeans. Let us embody the heroes of our past, as we become the heroes of someone else’s future. Let’s seek to entrench Godly truths and virtues into our own lives first so that we will be able to show them to others without thinking. Let us live lives that are worthy of our calling to be role models. Let us live lives that make others proud to know us and to be known by us. Let’s not just live up to others expectations of positive role modelling, let’s exceed it!