While growing up, my brothers called me gaya-gaya (copycat) as a kid. It was because I copied things that everyone did and emulated anything that I saw in others that made an impression on me. Unconsciously, I watched how people acted, listened to what they said and observed how others reacted to it. I took mental notes, instinctively retrieved them and acted accordingly when I found myself in the same situation. I am guessing this was borne from the thought in my mind that I, just by myself, was not that interesting or beautiful enough so I thought being someone else in every situation was a better choice.
Thankfully, my role models improved as the years progressed. I learned more and more to sift and classify who served as an example and who served as a warning. I was surrounded by a very diverse group of people from whom I constantly would learn every day in every way - from church, performing arts, school and work. They taught me what was right or wrong indirectly, when I was being sensitive to the lesson, or directly when I was being dense or arrogant or stubborn.
That's why it grates on me when those people who are in the limelight behave badly and later on give the excuse that they are not role models. We all are, whether we like it or not. And the bigger the spotlight, so is the responsibility to use it for good. Most of everything we do falls under those two categories - example or warning. Whether we like it or not, we are role models to the young people that live around us.
A village - that is really what it took to raise me as the African proverb says. Through the years, all these little pieces of the people I admired became a part of me. I consider myself a jigsaw puzzle of everything I've learned from others - just like we all help raise all the children that are there to observe how we live our lives. May the puzzle piece that we contribute always be a good one.