I think it’s safe to say that everyone has at least one role model, maybe more. These role models may be present in our lives or someone we’ve seen on some form of media. They could be older than us, our same age, or even younger than us. I honestly never thought too hard about who my role models are until recently. This week I came to the realization that one of my biggest role models was also my friend.
Tucker was one of my closest friends all throughout high school. We were in FFA, student council, and on the speech and debate team together. Not only did we do all of these activities together, we were also both the top of our respective classes (he was a year older than me). Everything Tucker did well, I wanted to do just as well. He set the bar high, however. Sometimes I didn’t meet my goal of being as good as Tucker. I never could score or place as high as he did in the Crops Evaluation CDE. I also never reached my goal of beating his SAT score. Other times I far exceeded my expectations. I achieved two of my highest goals in honor of him. He ran for Section II Director the year before I did but didn’t get it. It was a close election with several applicants and I know he did the best he could. When I ran, I didn’t think there was any way I could achieve it because he didn’t. I did, however, and spent the year serving the members to the best of my ability like I knew he would have.
While I was running for Section Director, Tucker was running for his highest goal at the time: State Office. I had spent some time that summer helping him and our friend Kelsie prepare to run. I knew that they were well-prepared and awesome candidates, but we also put our trust in the nominating committee. I was there right after he and Kelsie opened their slates. (Spoiler alert: their names weren’t on it.) I saw and felt the other side of slate that night. I cried alongside them because I wanted them to get it more than anything. That night crushed my dreams. How could I possibly become a state officer if they hadn’t? I’m too shy and awkward to even be considered. These were my thoughts following that night. Yet, I still ran and gave my all in those rounds. When it came time to open my slate, I went to the exact same spot Tucker and Kelsie opened theirs the year before. Tucker was even there with me when I saw my name on that piece of paper and again at the induction ceremony.
Tucker came as my special guest to the first weekend of FIRE and I saw him again a couple of days later. During this time catching up, I realized it wasn’t all of Tucker’s accomplishments that made him one of my role models. It was how he responded when he didn’t reach his goals. One of the first things he and Kelsie told my chapter after that night was to pass slate. They could have asked us to try to break it, but they didn’t. Of course Tucker mourned after not achieving his dream, but he did it privately and humbly. He was happy for the team that made it and even remained friends with some of them. I have so much respect for him after seeing him go through that disappointment and come out a better person. There is no way that not achieving State Office was a “failure” for him, because he’s thriving where he is. He’s at Purdue now, studying a major he loves, hanging out with cool people just like him, and sharing his tremendous Christian faith with others. His happiness is evidence to his success.
So, who is your role model? Are they a positive influence or a negative one? Do they share the same hopes and dreams as you? Is it your goal to be just like them? Are you as thankful for them as I am for Tucker? If you are, take some time this upcoming Thanksgiving to tell them. Because everyone deserves to know that they are looked up to and loved. You never know, YOU might be someone’s example to follow. Are you a good one? Remember, we lead by example.
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