I am not a role model. 

I repeat.

I. am. not. a. role. model.

Last night two of my favorite people in the world got into a heated discussion about role models. For them, role models are admired because they look and act differently, thus making it okay for every little girl to feel great in their own skin. I was then asked who was my role model when I was growing up. 

My mind went blank. And silent. And empty.

I didn't have one.

I slightly panicked as they pressed.

And then my heart sank as my favorite little one in the whole world told me I was her role model.  

What. The. Fuck.  

It took me 24 hours to regain my composure. One of those peeps joined me on a really long car ride to New Jersey the next day. I thought we would sing and laugh and talk soccer. I was so caught up in my own damn head that I had shut down and couldn't snap out of it.

These beautiful and wonderful women have no idea that I didn't feel comfortable in my skin for a really long time. I made a lot of mistakes. I grew up in an era of learning the hard way. There were no role models. There were no women doing what I wanted to do. No parents that were in my chosen field. I didn't think about it, never considered not trying, I just got shit done. I was lucky enough to earn opportunities that sometimes took me in way over my head. Sometimes I struggled in the water. Sometimes I swam effortlessly. I never drowned.  

I am not a role model.

I am a survivor. 

No one sees that for just about every success I had, there was a ton of hard work, angst, frustration, and sleepless nights. And failure. The feelings of not being worthy, of being a fraud, overwhelmed me at times. No one saw that. Well, maybe one boyfriend who looked down at me as I lay on the kitchen floor in a tired, panicked moment of self-doubt. He told me to suck it up.  (Note: Don't EVER say that to anyone. It does NOT motivate.)

I am not a role model.

I am a grinder. I learned at the school of hard knocks.  I worked really hard to get the basics done. I failed at relationships. A LOT. I said the wrong things and acted stupidly. Hardly role model material. 

After I dropped my friend off last night, I gave myself a mental kick in the ass and thought about people I love who have qualities I admire:

My friend Todd, who is as loyal as the day is long, smart as a whip, always offers a strong shoulder and is a damn fine drinking partner.

My friend Dennis, one of the most talented directors I know and an even more stellar person. And, funny as shit when the shit hits the fan.

My brother John, who always seems to keep HIS shit together no matter what life throws at him. 

My bff Debbie, who is stronger mentally, physically and emotionally than just about any person I know.

Megan....my rockstar traveling companion who is always headed in the right direction, even though she sometimes feels she is off course.  I admire her raw honesty and her ponytail is always on point.

Aly, who is tirelessly working in a man's world. Welcome to the club, sweets.

Tim...because he is super smart, and funny and just...Tim.

And Brenda...hands down to the kindest and most loyal person ever.

I could go on and on. They are all loving, rock solid, talented, intelligent, funny as hell, sometimes insecure and vulnerable, and usually self-deprecating. 

They are 'live-ers', givers, and pseudo-sinners and I love them with all my heart. 

Because they...WE... try really hard, and by hook or by crook, succeed at what we do. Professionally...personally....quietly.

Mavericks, for sure.

Trailblazers, definitely.

And yes, role models.  Unknowingly.