A Role Model To Roll With

New empowered woman in businessWhilst idly flicking between TV channels, it recently occurred to me that there are TV shows to teach you everything. Whether it’s cooking yourself a decent meal, attempting to build your own house, or dressing to impress; there is a TV show to cater to all needs. Where TV fails, there is no shortage of “supplements” available on YouTube.

And for those among us who prefer the authority of a book, there are dummies guides on everything from green living to coin collecting. There’s something for everyone, promising to make things easier. Often the ability to follow a process step by step, and emulate, gets great results. It was by watching and learning that I mastered the “art” of contouring.

However, despite the proliferation of these DIY guides, there is something pretty key missing: a DIY guide to life. But of course there are, you might say. Have I failed to spot the shelves of guides promising to banish all your vices, from procrastination to financial mismanagement? Or have I failed to notice the booming self help industry selling courses on life coaching and “neuro-linguistic programming” (whatever that is)?

A recent UK study reveals in fact that 86 per cent of some 1,100 twenty somethings suffer from serious anxiety and stress: a fear that they’re not doing enough with their life. Given the extent of the problem, and the degree to which a a short chat can help, more needs to be done to bring the idea of a role model to the same footing as a self help book or online guru.

The short answer to that, is no. I have not failed to notice. In fact I have spent the GDP of a small country on buying these books and attending these courses. And as a young(ish) lady, living away from home for the first time and setting out on a career in the city, I have quickly realised that it’s not a dummies guide that’s going to get me through the day.

Upon reflection I have realised that I did best, whilst I had a role model. Somebody who had been through the process before me, and who I found inspiring. In moments of difficulty I would do what I thought my role model would have done in a similar situation. And that helped me to excel. But having moved on from that phase, I found myself at a loss. And I suspect many others will be in the same position.

This isn’t because there is a shortage of great role models out there. Rather, the problem is one of fit. Just like when you go shopping for that “perfect” dress, there are lots that could be perfect for others. But there’s usually only one that fits you in all the right places. Its the same with role models. At least I can speak for myself. It took me a while to find a role model who inspires me, yet who I can relate to; a woman who has managed to strike a balance between a successful career, whilst remaining unapologetic about her Muslim heritage. For others it will be something different.

And once you find a role model, there is the question of how to move from admiring from a distance, to actually talking to them and finding out more about how they operate. Even if you do manage to orchestrate an introduction, often you’ll find a dead end. Whether its emails that are left unanswered or notes that never get acknowledged, the outcome is often quite discouraging.

From talking to those quite senior in their fields I have realised that often the problem is not one of unwillingness to guide. Rather, its about finding the time and appreciating just how meaningful their input can be for those going through their respective quarter life crises. A recent UK study reveals in fact that 86 per cent of some 1,100 twenty somethings suffer from serious anxiety and stress: a fear that they’re not doing enough with their life. Given the extent of the problem, and the degree to which a a short chat can help, more needs to be done to bring the idea of a role model to the same footing as a self help book or online guru.

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