I mentioned my aunt, and wanted to honour her a little more. Mother of one, a cousin who was always a favourite, but grew up too far away, on exotic islands and in busy cities. Like me, she grew up in a small rural area a long way from any major city, and yet went on to university and a career. Now in her 70s, she has only recently retired. She was a successful journalist, climbing to a senior position in our national broadcasting organisation. I remember the time she was profiled in a very prominent national magazine, and was so proud I knew her.
She was always very softly, deliberately spoken, a contrast to her loquacious and adventurous husband who took her on adventures to the Pacific Islands in the 1960s. She was never a stereotypical pushy, aggressive journalist, but a thoughtful, polite, sensitive one. She emphasised to me that it wasn't necessary to match these stereotypes to succeed, and that there were always different ways to get results. I remembered this when I was working as a diplomat and later businessperson. In these bastions of male domination, working in less than liberal parts of Asia, I was able to achieve as a woman, not by emulating the strategies of my male counterparts, but by working in a different way, to my advantage. I think, over the years, my aunt had also prepared me for being different, for not doing what was expected, and showed me that it was okay.
Rather than make this a long post listing women who were role models or who said or did something that helped me through my life and my journey, I think I'll do a short series of my own personal role models. In the meantime though, feel free to mention yours in the comments here, or on your blogs. We all need role models; people to look up to, people who help us navigate our way through life's difficulties, people who make a difference.