As a teenager, I didn’t want to be me; I wanted to be many different people. Maybe I realized that they all lived inside me and that if I managed to connect with them, they would become aspects of me. – Marion Cotillard
I’m currently on a whirlwind budget trip around Europe with my dad. Our first two stops were Rome and Florence. I thought I would adore Italy. In fact, I was so excited that I reversed our initial plans so we could start in Italy and work our way north. Surprisingly, though, I really wasn’t all that impressed. It was beautiful, of course, but the culture was just not for me. One week was plenty; I saw the sights, had some delicious food, and I was done. Even the museums… I mean, it was my idea to skip going to see David when we were in Florence!
Would you ever guess that I used to want to be an art history major study abroad in Italy? It really wasn’t that long ago at all. I thought of myself as an art-lover supreme. Although I do enjoy art, I am not one to go in a museum and stare at paintings for hours on end. That just isn’t me, yet for some time, I tried desperately to be that.
Why is that? Why do we set these goals and plans for ourselves when they don’t mesh with our true passions and desires? Why do we strive to be something that we are not?
I think, for me, it stems from my desire for acceptance and love. At the time in my life that I wanted to study art history in Italy, I was very close to my high school art history teacher, since she helped me through a very tough time in my life. I loved her so desperately – and desperate is definitely the right word – that I wanted to become her. That was my pattern. When I loved someone, I was so scared to lose them, and the only way I could see to keep them in my life was to have more things in common with them, spend more time with them… force myself into their lives in every way I could.
Now someone tell me – how functional is that? In fact, the actions that I was taking to try and keep people in my lives were the very things driving them away.
This pattern still exists. I still have that craving for acceptance and that clingy personality, but instead of letting it become my fault, I have turned it around to use it as my strength. There are still people in my life that I love and admire greatly. However, instead of striving to become just like them, I strive to adapt their actions and personalities in a way that best suits me. I want the motivation of admiring them without the compulsion to become them.
It is true mentorship, rather than emulation, that we should aim for.