Before one of the varsity basketball games I was about to play as a junior in high school, my dad asked me a perplexing question, “Jonathon, do you realize that you are a role model for the elementary kids? You are the one they switch out for themselves when dreaming of becoming a high school player. Do you realize that?” At first, I disagreed with him, “Those kids don’t look up to 17 year olds as their role models!” I thought about it, reminiscing on my old childhood when I would go to every high school basketball game each year in the winter, play basketball in the icy driveway with friends, and even help out as the water boy so I could get as close as I could to the players I idolized as a kid. I then realized I actually did look up to those “big” varsity players.
I remember even making nicknames for the players, watching their every move on the court. I wished back then that I would be that star player on the basketball team when I grew up to be a junior or senior, which is the primary reason I worked so hard to achieve that goal.
That is part of the reason that I believe everyone should be a good role model: to show the younger generation how to make the world a better place to live, to be a better citizen, and to give them something to dream about, like being the star basketball player. Watching those players as a kid helped me become the hard worker I am today, along with many other good qualities I possess.
Even though I don’t quite idolize a high school basketball player anymore, it doesn’t mean that I still don’t have a role model or two that I don’t look up to. In fact, both of my sisters are the perfect role models for me. They represent many things that are good in the world today, including their passion for their jobs; their strong opinions on important matters in the community, nation, and world; and also their excitement to be a helping, loving parent and sibling are only a fraction of the reason they are a role model to me.
Now, I believe it is the time I should return the favor that both of my sisters have given me. I am now an uncle of four, and every time I see either my nephew or one of my three nieces, I am excited to be a good role model for them. In fact, I already have my nephew dreaming of being a student at the University of Michigan, not bad for a four year old.
Also, I now realize, still early in life, how much my role models have changed how I live. Since my dad has asked me that question, I realize that it is never too early to be a role model. That is why I strive to be one for my nieces and nephew, but not only do I want just them to learn from me, I wish to be a role model for every person I come in contact with. From the elementary kids who looked up to me while I was in high school, to the many people I will see and talk to in the years to come.
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