Since my journey back to the Literary Arts, I have been called many things. Among them all, Role Model is the only one I have shied away from. I understand the gravity of being a Role Model and never thought I qualified. Teachers, Parents, and Celebrities I always thought bared that burden but I had a new thought.
In 1993, Nike along with Charles Barkley launched an ad campaign entitled “I am Not A Role Model”. In the commercial, he outlines that he is paid to score points, get rebounds, and be intimidating. Not raise your kids. That campaign was met with some backlash considering the amount of young people that looked up to him. He was a Role Model whether he liked it or not. However, that didn’t stop him from making mistakes on and off the court which made him a less appealing Role Model. My mistakes in life are many more.
That’s why I often downplayed myself as a Role Model. At one time, I considered embracing myself as a Role Model. I thought my new purpose in life meant new responsibilities. That was short lived. A few years ago, my son’s oldest brother was shot and killed. He was not my biological son but we had a great relationship. We spoke often. It seemed that no matter how much knowledge I shared with him, it could not save him. I took it as failure and abandoned any thoughts of being a Role Model. However, I could not avoid all the young people in my life. It was them that helped me see the real problem.
Our young people live in an unforgiving social media society. Any mistake they make is quadrupled by public opinion once a friend puts it on social media. I have made tons of mistakes and being human, I am inclined to make a few more. Our youth need inspiration to move past mistakes. Whereas Role Models are assumed perfect representations, I tell the youth I am far from perfect. I am Real. Perfectly flawed like everyone else. My message to them is don’t strive to be like me but let me be a representation of part of the journey. I am a Real Model, not a Role Model. My success have come at the expense of my struggles. My legacy will be written over my struggles to come.
Holla if you hear me