Role models deserve respect

Aspen Tallent, Junior Photo Editior

2019 is coming to a close, and it’s that time of year where people are worrying not only about Christmas gifts for everyone but also New Year’s resolutions. Every year we look back and ask ourselves what we want to improve about ourselves. We are reminded of who we want to be, even if that reminder doesn’t last long. Usually, we try to base that picture off of another person we deem “successful.”

Even the Scrooges among us have a role model, whether we realize it or not. It might be that person you name off in those awkward icebreakers on the first day of school, or it might not be. We don’t always base ourselves off of “good” influences. But where would we be if those people weren’t a part of our lives?

Personally, I have more role models than I can count. One of the most influential in my life has been the director of the youth orchestra church organization that I participate in. She does so much for our group, and she’s always organized and put together. She’s like an older sister to us and we can always talk to her — but I don’t think she always gets the recognition she deserves. 

I also look up to a friend I met in seventh grade who has stood by me through the hard spots that friends always face and through the good times that have shown up as well. I appreciate her to no end, but it can be hard to show that. 

As a society, we need to change.

We need to learn more ways to care about each other, to show gratitude. We are all in this together, and those people who change your life deserve to know it — just like you deserve to know that you impact people, too. Each of us has admirable traits, and each of us more than likely has someone who appreciates that, too. The world has only lasted this long because we are here for each other. For the world to grow and become a better place for all of us, we have to continue to be there.

It’s hard to appreciate people in a way that they can notice because we aren’t quite sure how, and we don’t want it to backfire. We’re afraid they won’t think we’re sincere, or that the message won’t come across quite right. When in doubt, give it a shot. As long as your efforts are genuine, the person will appreciate it more than you think. 

In the afternoons, I occasionally volunteer at Woodrow Wilson Elementary, in a fourth grade classroom. One day I went in and was greeted with a melted ice cream sandwich slapped into my hand and sticky bear hugs from three sweet students, and it melted my heart of the same consistency of that ice cream sandwich. I’d had a rough day, but that afternoon, they showed me I made a difference to them — it made my day.

So I dare you all to find something meaningful to do for someone who is important to you and do it without second-guessing yourself. I think you’ll be surprised by how it turns out.