The importance of role models

I must say, the past three years have really seen me come into my own as an older sister. Only recently have my siblings - Zac (18), Lula (14), Molly (13) and George (10) - reached ages where no longer are they young children. I had a small crisis when Zac began uni this summer because I legitimately remember the day he was born! Fast forward 18 years, I now have four younger siblings and proudly hold the title of big sis Bea.


I've also been a camp counsellor for two summers, meeting some of the most incredible girls and young women at Camp Chinqueka (Connecticut) and spent six months living with an incredible Kiwi family as their au pair.


I wrote this manifesto to all the young people I've been a role model for, because I want to share with them the lessons I've learned in life so far-often the hard way! Whilst writing, though, I realised that this isn't just applicable to those children I've 'cared' for, but to everyone; simple life lessons we forget in the busy day-to-day rushing around.


I hope you get something from reading this today, in the same way I did from writing it. Who are you being a role model to? Who do you want to inspire?


The world is such a big place, but don't let that scare you. There is so much to experience and explore, and it's all yours for the taking. Let it excite you that the world is your oyster, with endless possibilities; set your sights high. Travel the world as I have, collect as many memories, photographs and friends in as many places as you can. Try new foods, new hobbies, experience new cultures. Expand your knowledge of religion, geography, world cuisine, even.


You probably can't fully understand this right now, but know that bad things happen; often to good people. Bad things also tend to happen when things seem as though they are just getting better. Usually, these bad things happen in threes - don't ask me why! But these bad things are sent to try us, because the universe knows that we can handle it. Not only can you handle it, but try hard to see every bad situation as a positive because you will always learn something from it that you can use in the future. So, bad things always end up as good things eventually, one way or another.


Don't be scared about getting older. Every year you are alive is a reason to celebrate and at each age you will have new challenges, experiences and wonder memories awaiting you. Challenges happen at whatever age, but I promise you can handle them. The amazing times ahead of you in your life will balance out the bad bits.


It's okay to be in pain and be sad, and it's okay to show that. Don't hold it all in, or you'll make it much worse. When it's over, you will be stronger, wiser, smarter and braver. Pain never lasts; it's always temporary and so when you think you can't take any more, remember that 'this too shall pass' as long as you believe it will.


Remember to be patient with people and forgive easily. Being forgiving doesn't make you weak, but holding a grudge against someone will only make you unhappy, not them. Your life will be a happier and less stressful one when you practice forgiveness and graciousness.


There is SO much more to like than Instagram likes, followers and DMs. I promise that although it seems so important now, the number of friends you have does not define how great you are as a person. You are important and valid and wonderful, regardless of what someone on social media says. That's a fact. Most things on social media are either untrue or just a snapshot into someone's life, which you can't compare yourself to. The people you compare yourself to are doing exactly the same thing with someone else.


You are great, just the way you are. Your body, your personality; never change these things for anybody else. You have one body for your entire life, and you need to look after it with healthy food, exercise and laughter. I promise, it sounds boring but you will feel your best when you nourish your body well. You are enough, right now, just as you are.


Always be your own biggest fan. You don't have to be arrogant to know you're a good person, and when you like - and then love - yourself, you'll be so much more capable of loving others. Make the most of your skills and talents, and never be ashamed to share then with the world. There is nobody else quite like you.


Trust your gut instinct. You might not quite understand this right now, but it will become clearer as you get older. It's a feeling in your belly that you get when something isn't quite right. It will guide you through life, and you'll do well to develop and trust that feeling. Your opinions and feelings are important; please never feel as though they aren't. People will respect you for knowing what you want and feel, and that's a great personality trait to possess.


Changing my life and moving to New Zealand is, for me, a way in which I can be a great role model to you. When you find something that makes you as happy as being in NZ makes me, don't let go of it. Hold it close, keep it sacred. Because the most important thing I can tell you is that being happy is worth more than anything else on earth.


“When you see a role model, what you see is a person who has the courage to be who you wish you could be. Stop wishing and just be.”