We all have people we admire. The people I admire the most are the people who are honest and work for acceptance and real social change. The people who care about others and don’t put reservations on their kindness and caring. Here are a few examples:
I remember watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood as a kid, but I didn’t really start to admire him until I was an adult and learned more about him. So many people aren’t the same in real life as they who they act like. Apparently, Mr. Rogers really meant it when he said, “I like you just the way you are.” He’s quoted by numerous sources as saying that he went into TV because he hated it and wanted to change it. He didn’t just complain about it; he actually made real change. Mr. Rogers was beloved for as long as his show was on TV, and he proved that entertainment could be gentle and accepting. Here’s a link I liked.
I first learned about her through her book, Loud in the House of Myself. I thought it was going to be just another memoir about someone with borderline personality disorder, but what I found was something more honest and touching than a simple memoir. She talks frankly about what it felt like to grow up as her, and is now an advocate for de-stigmatizing mental illness, for body acceptance, and against bullying. She could have chosen to be “that girl,” but instead is a writer, advocate, teacher, and bellydancer. I admire her for choosing her own reality; she’s trying to make the world a better place, not just for her, but for anyone who is struggling. This is a link to an article about her.
A few years ago, I went to an American Counseling Association conference and was lucky enough to hear him speak. It was an amazing experience. Mr. Yalom is considered the expert on group therapy and existential therapy. He’s also an author of several wonderful books, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, and has a counseling practice. The reason he’s on this list is because I greatly admire how he does counseling, and I would love to be that skilled one day. Not just that, but he encourages therapists to be themselves and to be active in the therapy. Early on in grad school, I had a professor encourage me to practice smiling in the mirror. I did, and I looked like I was faking it. It took me a little while to figure out that it was okay to be myself, and that when I smiled and it was genuine, people would appreciate that more. No one has a better BS meter than someone coming in for therapy. Here’s an interesting interview in which he’s asked 7 questions about therapy.
I really hesitated about putting him on this list because of the sexual assault allegations against him. If it’s ever proven that he did anything, I’ll be terribly disappointed. I decided that I wanted to be honest. Bill Cosby is a man I admire because he’s been funny his entire career without cursing or vulgarity. Now, I like George Carlin, Louis CK, and Lewis Black, but I have to admire a man who could make his routine family friendly without being childish. I also loved The Cosby Show. People will watch quality TV if it’s offered to them.
I realize she’s not contemporary, but I couldn’t have a list of heroes without including her. I grew up watching The Miracle Worker, and I read her book. I was always inspired by her courage. I can’t imagine what life was like for her, but she had a life, despite her “disabilities.” Hellen Keller proved that limitations only exist in your mind. “Life is a daring adventure or nothing.” How can you not be inspired by that?