Role modeling in life

‘Fake it ’til you make it’ that is what people say when you are trying to make do at the job they’re at when they feel that they are under-qualified in the situation, isn’t it?
The implication is that when one is uncertain about their situation, they should pretend to suit the role until they match the prerequisite of what is being asked of them, to give themselves the necessary time to work their way up to standards. It is an often rather ill-conceived notion in which we lie to others and ourselves into becoming better skilled. It is a method of work process and personal development in which we often end up asking ourselves whether it is for the better and for the majority of the time leads us into questioning our own identity if the standards haven’t been met after a set of time. If we fake who we are and pretend to be someone else, then what exactly makes us who we are?

I didn’t understand this reason of life up until recently. In the past few weeks, maybe even months, I’ve had people come to me asking about their direction of life. As per usual, being the objective and rational me, my point of advice was to focus on their tasks at hand and to move with the flow, hopefully resulting in them being able to find out their ambitions over time. But what if after all that, there still isn’t any? I wasn’t able to answer them. After months of seeking out a goal to work towards, they were still ambiguous to their own goals. And it didn’t hit me what it was they were missing until I remembered what the point was about ‘faking it ’til you made it’.

It is to copy.

A great manager once told me that sometimes it is better to produce a good copy than to have a bad original. It stuck with me for quite some time, but the words never meant as much to me as it does today. Thinking back to my past, I have sometimes wondered why it was important to have a full family. Why was it important to have both a “mother” and a “father”? Was it because they provided a basic fundamental blueprint to a stable household? The father would act as the source of income, while the mother provided the home education, teaching children what it meant for them to grow up or what is required for them to fit to the standards set by society. Was it because they could simply provide a healthy environment in which children could learn to develop on their own, leading and guiding them up to point? But that can’t be the only reason could it? Especially considering that in present days, both mothers and fathers would share equal workload and may not even spend as much time with their children just to maintain (or double) the financial resources. The truth is that I missed a very important factor that I had forgotten to take into account, role-modeling.

Why is role-modeling so important. In life, we use what we can find in our environment and adapt to it. Whether you are rich, poor, talented, common, or anything in between, we all find ways in which we can survive and it is because of that, we become who we are. As a child, when we grow up, we learn to fill in the deficit our situation has caused us to be in and learn to deal with it. For children whose parents aren’t always home, it may lead to them becoming independent early or become more introverted, but it could also cause them to grow an animosity, a disconnection, to the people we care about. There is a give and take. Parenting is not just about trying to help children to grow, but to also to fulfill that void so that they wouldn’t need to. When children grow up, the stronger grow in a certain trait, the bigger the cost would be on the other side. To create a balanced childhood requires parents to recognize a void and be able to provide that support on the deficit as well as to support their current talents. Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen, partially because we have duties to fulfill, like receiving salary to pay the bills.

So children do what they can. They take it from their environment for better or for worse. What children are often desperately seeking are role-models.

Having a career in art, whether that is in writing, drawing, music or video, mean that they all have a common background in a certain way. They learn about the techniques and they copy. Learning skills requires practice and in order to do these well, you need to copy techniques and master them. It is the reason why becoming a sushi chef requires a minimum of 5 years as an apprentice to even be allowed to hold a knife. It is because becoming a sushi chef is a lifestyle choice and not simply a mastery of trait. To care about sushi, requires dedication, a good understanding, an eye for detail and speedy handcraft. All this requires years of practice.

But what this translates to in life is that we often look for common grounds in lifestyle and seek to copy those more skilled than us, in the hope to one day be able to create original content. With artistic occupations, this can be easily seen. With more common jobs like sales or marketing, it is much harder to do so because the emphasis lies more on having a natural talent and being able to express that. In addition, they are common jobs for which most people are capable of learning if there is enough interest. We don’t see those jobs as art even though we should.

The point I’m trying to make is this. As we grow older, we are more and more tasked to find and create our own original content, whether that is for our careers or for life. We cannot copy homework anymore because everyone is writing a different essay. We can have certain traits that we share, but ultimately everyone lives for themselves. It is often a point in which we confuse because we see blueprints all around us and we are influenced by them, causing a tendency to either over-copy until it doesn’t make sense or losing a bit of self-identity. We try to be like others, but end up not being able to. And this makes sense, because we aren’t them. We are us.

But copying isn’t all bad especially if we don’t have any direction to look forward to. We need to have ambitions in life. That is our direction. And to have ambition, means we need to have a goal. That is our destination. If we don’t have those, why not just copy first? Find someone you admire, someone you want to become like and make that your temporary template in life. And one day, you too will be skilled enough to create your original content.

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