I freely admit that I’m familiar with the self-help genre. I also am pulled toward gurus, especially in the marketing/branding industry. A guru (per one definition in my go-to dictionary) is “a person with knowledge or expertise: expert.” You know who I’m talking about. That personality doing TED talks. They have a large following on social media. They always have some tidbit of information that is so attractive and helpful. “Start here…” “You can’t do this unless…” “Remove the obstacles and then…” It’s all very, very smart. And, very, very inspirational. They know what they’re talking about. Wisdom oozes from their pores.
It wasn’t until I started reading David Sedaris’s Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002), that I remembered just how much I enjoy his writing and perspective. I love that he writes mostly personal essays and some funny short stories. He is probably the author that ignited my interest in memoirs. And, it wasn’t until I was reading Sedaris’s latest book, that I realized he is a great source of inspiration for me. I don’t read his work because it’s full of truisms about “the craft of writing.” I read it because it’s interesting and well-written. For this, Sedaris is somewhat of a role model. A role model is “a person whose behavior [skill, talent?] in a particular role is imitated by others.”
I spend an embarrassing amount of time thumbing through Facebook and Instagram. I have followed multiple blogs regularly (before bloggers just focused on Facebook and Instagram). There are a lot of people out there defining themselves as gurus. (I’m guilty of posting aspiring guru-esque content.) It’s so tempting to write and post because it seems to be what gets liked and clicked and shared—social media currency. Maybe because I’m already tuned into self-help and marketing/branding gurus, my feeds are just a reflection. But, I also see people who are successful bloggers or have a large social media following take time away from their normal subjects and post something like “how to get more followers” or “3 ideas for creating an editorial calendar” or even, “here’s how I really do this—my life isn’t as glamorous as you think.” I get it, because I click through and, like I said, I, too, have written similar pieces. But, goodness, I’m yearning for something different.
The guru and the role model. They’re very similar. A role model could be a guru and a guru could be a role model, but that’s not necessarily the case. I want to follow fewer gurus and more role models. I want to know people who are just doing really cool things and creating really beautiful art and are really good citizens of this universe. I don’t want to know how they do what they do in 5 steps. I want them to just be role models. I want to imitate. I’ll figure out the particulars on my own.