Being a role model to future generations…now let’s talk about what that means.
What is a role model?
Being a role model means to become someone that others can look up to. Maybe they want to be as fit or smart or kind like someone is. It is someone we look at and say, “Oh, that’s who I want to be.”
Maybe it’s our moms who are so strong and wonderful. Maybe it’s an artist that you pursue to become; talented but in your own way. It could be your friend who knows so much about a topic than you do but you hope to learn as much about it as you can.
In my community of Indonesians, since I live outside of Indonesia, we are so compact and basically know every Indonesian that exists within the country we live in. Because of that, children come and go. As years pass, kids turn to teenagers turn to adults. Many leave for college and a new generation of Indonesian kids take their place.
In my situation, I have now become the oldest of the Indonesian kids (of course with the others of my age). Therefore, my friends and I are the ones who the kids look up to. And because of past experiences, I don’t want the little kids to feel the way I did with the older kids during my time as a little girl. So I made a change.
During my time as a little girl, I was a shy one; never talked or ever made the first move to make friends. The older girls, to me, always seemed so amazing and wonderful. I envied my same-age friends for being able to just go up to them. Because I couldn’t.
Whenever they did approach me first, I felt so happy. Happiness in my little girl heart that is too hard to explain even now.
To clarify, this experience was when I was 6 to 13 years old.
I just wished at that time, that the older girls would come to every little girl and tell them that they are welcome even with just a smile. Whenever there was a party, they never made a move to invite anyone to come over.
When the party was hosted at their houses, the doors to their room were either locked or closed. I mean sure, anybody could just open it right or knock? But it was too much for the little girl that was me and I know it might be hard for little girls now too.
I just never felt welcome. I felt alone.
Sometimes I blamed myself, “There must be something wrong with me. Why am I so shy, so scared? Why -”
From this experience and this pain I felt when I was a little girl, I thought to myself,
“When I become one of the oldest, I will make sure no one – absolutely no soul- will ever feel this way.”
How I become a role model.
First of all, I am so thankful to my same-age friends who are so welcome to middle-schoolers and elementary-schoolers of our time. It’s almost like nobody can distinguish ages anymore because the friendship during this generation is so united and beautiful.
Regardless of age, I invite every single girl to conversations, games, and everything in between (the boys are in the hands of my one-year younger brother). I don’t care if they’re 12 or 8 or 7 or 14, they are welcome.
It doesn’t even matter whether I know their names or not, they are welcome. The other day, a little girl was crying as we were saying goodbye to our friend in the airport. Did I know her name? I think I should…but sadly, I don’t. Have I seen her many times? Doubt it or I just can’t remember. But.
I hugged her anyway and and let her cry in my arms.
By being able to just bring everyone in is just so important. This is role model behavior because the younger generation will look up to my friends and I with admiration and a set mindset that will make them become better teenagers for the little kids in the future.
Their mindset will be changed from “I am a teenager and older than all of you, we don’t understand each other” to “I am a friend and although older than you, we can understand each other if we try.”
I do all I can to make everyone feel welcome.
Sometimes it’s tricky to find something everyone would like to do but we always come to a consensus either way. We play dress up, we talk, dance, sing,
annoy the boys by calling them to take pictures for us, etc.
I go all out by making them smile with funny skits, comments, and really anything else that would make people smile. Not only for the little ones, I also want my friends to be just as happy.
I recall one time when a little girl was talking all of a sudden when I was talking to my friends. I quickly responded.
She was purposely talking in gibberish. And you know how I responded?
I still remember how she put so much emotion to her words-that-made-no-sense and I responded the same exact way. This “conversation” brought laughter to all the girls in the room of varying ages.
How I hope I am a role model to them.
Now, to them, to everyone, even my friends this may seem unnoticeable. But my generation – this generation- of the oldest Indonesian kids have changed the way the little ones are treated and therefore will ever feel.
I have lived in this same country for as long as I can remember and I’m pretty sure I can vouch about my previous statement. I’m 16 but lived here, in the same place, for almost 11-12 years…yup.
The friendship between all of us is so genuine and strong and I only wish for my little sweeties (what I call all the girls haha) to keep that when I have to leave for college.
In their heads, they won’t ever think, “Oh, she changed this generation friendship so much.” Because they weren’t there when I was little or they were tiny babies at the time. They wouldn’t notice this “change” that occured.
And I am joyous about that.
I cannot be more happy to think that these girls will never have to feel the same way I did, they don’t have to live their delicate, young lives with pain and regret. They never have to think, “Oh, I wish she would just come to me.” They don’t ever have to blame themselves for being too quiet or shy.
It is not like I want my efforts to be known, that is irrelevant to me. I don’t want to be credited or thanked because of the habits I changed. The mistakes made from previous generations was almost mandatory to change whether it came from me or others. Everyone who notices something wrong in a system, it’s almost a rule for that person to make a change.
I might be the only one who thinks this way or really the only one who thinks too much. Someone who holds onto painful memories and hopes for others to never feel the same way. But seeing the smiles of the little girls, seeing that they are able to enjoy their time with so-called teenagers brings so much joy to my heart.
My time spent with this community of Indonesians is always my happiest, most treasured and precious memories. Not because I, myself, felt happy even though of course I was. But because the joy of making others smile and laugh is precious to me. Making others feel like they are welcome is always my goal.
How you can be a role model to future generations as well.
In a short sentence, you can be a role model to little ones by being kind, humble, and gracious.
As much as people hate it, looking kind is important. Why you ask? Because kids are kids. They’ll judge whether you’re approachable or not by how you look- your facial expressions. Smile. Show them that being a young adult is not all about teenage angst, laziness, or annoyance about everything.
Show that you care.
There’s a quote/expression that says “actions speak louder than words” and this is so true for this situation.
With kids, a “hi” just won’t cut it. You have to show that “hi”.
Invite them to sit next to you, get into a conversation about the most craziest or simplest things, play hide-and-seek, I don’t know just do something that floats on your boat that the little girl or boy would love to do as well.
If I could have a conversation in gibberish that lasted about 5 minutes, I am 100% sure at that point, that you are capable of doing anything.
Because you know what? You’ll be doing the kid a big favor. You could be the sunshine to their day. You could be the rainbow to their skies. And maybe just maybe, when they look at you, they think, “Oh wow, this is the person I want to be when I grow up.”