Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Role models

When we think or speak of role models, we always gravitate towards positive role models. My sister, Dawn, told me the other day, she doesn't have any positive role models growing up. All she had was negative role models. That was the first time I've heard of a negative role model. That was what was instrumental in allowing her to be what she is today. She didn't know what to aspire to; but she definitely know what she doesn't want to end up being- like all the negative role models around her. She may not know what she wants but she knew what she doesn't want. I guess this is as strong if not stronger, a motivation. If we have too great a positive role model, we might be setting ourselves up for failure. If we aspire to be like Tiger Wood, Michael Jordan or Michelle Kwan, a lot of us will fall very short of the mark. On the other hand, if we don't do what our negative role models does, we've already succeeded. She knew she didn't want to a stay at home mum like our mother. Our mother never worked a day in her life even though we were so poor. Dawn went on to have kids and a career. Today at 50, her house in New Jersey is paid for, she is an accountant at a Fortune 500 firm in New York making 6 figures a year, own 2 cars (paid for with cash), has 2 sons, the older one is applying to Yale. Her husband is an out of work Methodist minister. We came from a family full of vices- from Opium addiction (our grandfather); compulsive gamblers, alcoholics, chain smokers, philanderers; you name it. Our close relatives has vices that run the gamut. We knew growing up not to emulate them. We went to church at an early age, a result of attending a "mission" school. Schools, when we were growing up, were started and run by the various world churches and it was their missionary obligation; churches like the Roman Catholic church and the Church of England. Growing up poor, we didn't know what dreams were; "what do you want to be when you grow up?" Questions like that were moot. We grabbed what little opportunities there were for higher education. We, never in our wildest dreams, ever saw ourselves living one day in North America; 7 siblings- 3 in Toronto, Canada, 3 in California and 1 in New Jersey. There, by the grace of God go we. Funny expression but apt.

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