I consider my role models to be pretty much anyone I look up for having an admirable skill or quality. And if you’re anything like me, your role models are people that you kind of wish you were. As a creative person, a lot of the people I look up to make some kind of creative content. Often, when I’m interacting with this content, I think, ‘why can’t I be more like them?’, longing for their specific skill set or their achievements.
The first person that I noticed experiencing these thoughts towards was Leena Norms. I discovered Leena through her YouTube videos (channel name: justkissmyfrog), which are eloquent, engaging and thought-provoking. Her day job is in publishing, and her literary abilities and experiences are something I have long been envious of. Usually when I watch her videos, I’m just in awe of the ideas that she has and how she expresses herself. As I found myself wishing I was more like her, I also realised that this desire was fruitless, and never going to happen.
Firstly, and most simply, Leena and I are different people. We all know no two people are the same. But in addition to this, Leena is almost 10 years my senior, has both an undergraduate and master’s degree, and years of experience in publishing and experimenting creatively. I, on the other hand, am only halfway through my undergrad. I spent so long wishing I had abilities similar to someone who was miles ahead of me in terms of qualifications and life experience. With so many young people (I’m thinking teen YouTubers) becoming wildly successful before they even reach their twenties, it’s easy to feel inadequate and like I’m not achieving anything. However, these people are the exceptions, and I’ve come to accept that the things which I want to improve on and achieve are yes, definitely things I need to work on, but are also things that require the passage of time. I don’t know if the above paragraph makes sense to others, but that process of envy and then realisation was quite calming for me.
This is something I’ve been contemplating for a while and was brought to the forefront of my mind this morning whilst exercising. Whilst home from university for Christmas, I am reluctant to invest in my local gym, considering that I’ve already paid my year’s membership at a gym in my university town. For various reasons, I wanted to make some effort to maintain a level of fitness over the holidays. The easiest way I’ve found of doing this is following the workouts of Cassey Ho, more widely known under her online username Blogilates. Cassey uploads short and doable exercise routines to her YouTube channel, and her videos have a really encouraging vibe that I appreciate. Whilst completing one of her videos this morning, I was annoyed at my lack of ability to stretch as far as Cassey, to execute the moves as well as she was.
Then I realised that this was same as the situation that I described above. I was getting irritated that I couldn’t match the fitness of again, someone over ten years my senior, whose job is literally to be fit and athletic. Compare that to me, a student who exercises sporadically (and that’s being generous), and obviously the fitness level is going to be wildly different. I’m on a path to hopefully reach that level one day, but let’s be honest, my career is never going to be even closely linked to exercise, so this is extremely unlikely. What’s significant is that I’m on the path. Leena wouldn’t have been as skilled during her undergraduate degree as she is now, and Cassey wouldn’t be as fit as she is if she was also a full-time student.
Maybe no-one else can relate to this, but I’ve really enjoyed coming to peace with my role models. I love their work but reaching the standard that they maintain at my age and level of experience is physically impossible. I’ve been thinking about this idea for a little while, and it’s nice to see it laid down on paper (of sorts). Why can’t I be more like them? Because I’m not them. That answer is as simple as it gets, but it took me little while to come to terms with that and be content with my own pace of growth.
If you’re at all interested in this topic, I really recommend an episode in Ariel Bissetts’s Portrait of a Freelancer podcast called ‘Comparing Yourself To Others’. The whole podcast is very interesting and engaging, often straying from discussions specifically about freelance into the idea of art as a whole. The episode I mentioned does a much better job of talking about this idea than I do!
If you learnt this lesson before me, I hope you enjoyed reading this post; and if you had similar thought processes to me, I hope this made you feel a little better about your own achievements! As ever, thanks for reading my rambles (I’m really rather proud of this one), and if you’d like to keep in touch in between blog posts, all my social media is linked above.