It took a village to raise me. As I was out for my daily ramp walk, the thought dawned on me that I am the person I am today because a village rose up to raise me in the absence of parents that were otherwise physically/mentally/emotionally/spiritually unavailable. Not to say that both sets of my parents didn’t have a part in raising me and my younger brother, because I attribute a lot of my character, successes, and even failures to their efforts. However it takes a special, select person to be looked up to, to have an everlasting impact on young people. It’s a special something something if you will.
I was fortunate enough to have 2 sets of parents. A mom, stepdad, dad, and stepmom. While we primarily lived with my mom and stepdad, we had monthly visitation with our dad and step mom as we got older, later on gravitating towards the latter in lifelong decision making skills. In between my parents is where the magic happened. The outside people that would forever shape my world, and continue shaping it to this day. Those are the people that I feel truly shaped my character and helped guide me toward my current state in life. While I don’t have the rights or permissions of these people to give their names or post their pictures, I’ll talk abou them briefly.
The first person who really impacted me in my life and gave me a strong sense of confidence we will call N. I met N when I was about 8 years old. N helped teach me skills in a 4-H Dog Obedience Class. She taught me how to handle not just myself but a separate living entity and work in unison for a common goal. She would later go on to impact many children’s lives, and it wasn’t until much into my adulthood that we reconnected and I saw her in varying lights not as an elder or instructor but as a person with flaws and fears, successes, and hopes. The most valuable thing in a quote I learned from N: “You Get out of it what you put into it”-N. This applies to all things you endeavor upon. School, career, family, friends, etc. It’s all encompassing advice for success or for failure depending on your approach.
The second people I’ll touch on are A & S. They introduced me to the world of horses and business. I met A when I was 14 years old, and S when I was about 16 years old. A & S helped me through the awkward teenager transition by allowing me an out to my household and an in with the world’s most expensive hobby. They opened my eyes to the outside world and what it meant to have responsibilities. They essentially helped me grow up in a safe environment when I could not rely on my own home network for it. I was allowed to travel and experience new things, new people, new environments. I got my first taste of professional horse handling. I had people who owned their own business, who were successful, and people I admired for their knowledge and confidence. I strived to be like them as role models where my own mother failed me. I learned to ask questions and how to percieve the world and how I fit into it. I learned how to separate and distinguish business from personal worlds. My quote for A & S is “Curiosity-asking questions-isn’t just a way of understanding the world. It’s a way of changing it”-Brian Grazer.
Third: would be C. I reached out to C at the great age of 23 years old. I had been absent from the horse world for a while, and while I knew of her, I didn’t know her personally. C taught me confidence. Plain and simple. She taught me how to distinguish myself in a professional setting as an educated, young woman. Not a child who wanted to play with horses, but a young woman who wanted to do something with herself. I came to her unable to make eye contact, apologizing for situations that weren’t my fault, and shy. I attribute to her a sense of professionalism and a pride for my work ethic. I enjoy working with her on her farm with her horses. C taught me to always strive for better. In my work, my life, my relationships, everything. Always strive for better. In C, I found a part of myself. I came into my own. C also taught me that you can come from the bottom and make it to the top if you work hard enough. ” It is confidence in our minds, bodies, and spirits that allows us to keep looking for new adventures”-Oprah Winfrey.
Fourth is J. I met J at 25 years old. J taught me about authenticity, and continues to teach me about it to this day. J is the older version of myself in so many ways. She teaches me it’s okay to have fun, and be yourself. To travel and have adventures and live with abandon. I could write a book on everything J has taught me but I’ll spare everyone the deep entrenched story for now. J is very much her own book. Most importantly J taught me that once you discover as a landlocked mermaid that there are others who share in your plight…you are never alone again. While we are sparse, and rare to find, we exist. Once the cage door to life is open you can’t shut it again, and it’s not fair to keep a pretty colored bird or clip it’s wings if you won’t let it live to the fullest extent. That’s not a fair life to the bird. If I had but one quote for J, it would simply be “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.
While I’ve only mentioned female role models in this blog, many men have also helped shape me as a person and I will touch on them in another post. There are many more men and women who helped me break out of my shell and become the person I am today. I attribute much of my character building and shaping to the efforts of these fine people who didn’t have to help raise me, but they did. They continue to help transform me into the ever evolving person I am becoming. I should mention that these are only a few of the people I’ve looked up to and modeled myself after. However it is important that if you don’t have people in your life to look up to, you find the people you want to be like. Now I’m not necessarily applying that to celebrities or icons, but everyday people you might meet on the street. Find people that inspire you, that connect with a part of your soul. Write down what you want to be like in 10, 15, hell even 20 years and describe that person in detail. Then find people that emulate those qualities and learn from them. Successful people, happy people, kind people, professionals, artists, business people. The sky isn’t even the limit, the limits you put on yourself are what you will live by and shape yourself by. So be free and learn. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child in one way or the other. You become like the 5 people you spend the most time with. Be careful of the company you keep.