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Loss of a Role Model

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Emotions are what drive humans through their everyday lives. They come together as the art on the canvas of what we feel. They collect as the mosaic of instincts our minds produce following the circumstances of situations we face.

When a positive event occurs, happiness is the default reaction of feelings that result. When a negative experience occurs, a vague and extensive list of emotions is what results. We most likely will endure some sort of numbness, frustration, or anxiety. Whether they manifest in physical, psychological, or mental varieties, some sort of psychic disability results from the negativity. The single response when all of these aspects connect is pain.

Pain can manifest in many ways. For me, pain presents as a sensation of emptiness, or as if a piece of me is missing. Last September, I lost someone who, to me, was an instructor, a teacher, a friend, a role model. No one else was as honest, educated, stylish, or professional as this man, my tenth grade humanities teacher. While it may seem odd that a student could be so close to a teacher, but, to me, when a teacher makes an effort to understand how a student learns, that teacher leaves a significant mark in that student’s academic and social career.

When the school learned of the loss, not one dry eye existed in the entire grade level. All we could remember were the “Weekend Epiphanies” he related every Monday morning. He would describe some enlightenment he experienced during the weekend. At the beginning of class, he would have us do writing warm-ups consisting of us answering a question while diving into such depth with our answers that they anchored and mixed with our personal lives. He would blast Kanye West’s rapper music in his classroom to help us “focus” on finishing whatever project we were working on. He had the habit of starting every sentence in the beginning of the year with the phrase, “in a perfect world,” putting the prospect of Utopia right up front.

At the time, I was 16 years old. I have had many humanities teachers over the course of my middle school and high school career, but never have I met such an engaging, trustworthy, or committed individual. Among these and the many adjectives I can use to describe him, one word fits him perfectly: passionate. He saw his mission as sharing his passion for teaching through words and actions every day he walked through the front doors of the school. He accomplished that mission.

As I’ve said, I was a mere 16-year-old at the time. Nevertheless, upon hearing the news, I felt something no teenager should ever feel.

I write this blog now because I knew then that I was not in that glum, despairing situation alone. Those of us who have lost a significant person in our lives know it is beyond difficult. When losing someone you looked up to, you know that those are extraordinarily big shoes to fill and may seem almost impossible to do so. Moving through such a mournful situation takes time. I still can’t believe it, but I have learned to accept it. Below are lessons I learned from this tragic loss in hopes that they can help others in similar situations.

They were the mentors

We followed them because we admired their style, their ways, especially their successes. We must try to follow in their footsteps to accomplish our goals and earn the same kind of respect and acknowledgement that they did.

We can always be better

Even though we applauded and praised them, it is natural to experience feelings of envy. Now, we have a chance to practice everything they taught us, and put in our blood, sweat, and tears into something new and never before seen. It is our turn to create something remarkable and rise to the top as they did.

They want us to grow

It is unquestionable that our role models knew the impact, significance, and influence that they were making on our lives. But, what now? Who will guide us? The answers lay within every one of us. It is up to us to push and motivate ourselves to be the people they sought us out to be.

One thing is certain: Our mentors saw potential in us. They demonstrated that giving up on us was not an option. They demonstrated persistence with us; they showed us they cared. They were willing to assist in developing our success, not by being successful with us, but by guiding us toward molding that success and reaching it without a pedestal. They saw something unique and bright in us. Now, it’s time to see this in ourselves and in others.

We will become the teachers . . . in a perfect world.

 

Image: Berli Mike on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0

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