We asked our writers to share with us their stories of the people they are inspired by.
By Maria Holmes Loizou
When it comes to considering someone who inspires you, there are obvious people who come to mind. If you don’t know them personally, it could be your favourite film star, author, or even, perhaps more controversially, a politician. If, however, you’re thinking closer to home, your first thoughts are probably of your parents.
I’ve grown up with the most incredible mother in the world, and, without her, I wouldn’t have had the positive upbringing I did, which has provided me with fantastic morals. When it comes to who inspires me though, it is someone I call a parent, although not in the traditional sense. My inspiration is my stepfather.
Society has changed and only around fifty years ago did it begin to become more acceptable for parents to divorce. Nowadays it isn’t strange at all, with around 42% of marriages ending in divorce, so for many children, the adults that they grow up with may not be their biological parents. For me, my stepfather came into my life late in my childhood; I was 16. What’s bizarre, is that although that time period is just shy of a quarter of my life, I now struggle to imagine a time that he was not around.
As a paternal figure, he is incredible. I still have a relationship with my biological father, and my stepdad has never tried to compete with that. The connection that we share is inimitable and completely separate to my bond with my father. My stepfather also has a son who is 12, and I know he relishes the opportunity to watch his own ‘mini me’ grow into a man. I too look forward to seeing that happen.
My stepfather is not just a father-figure to me, he is also my mentor. He has supported me academically, and when I’ve said I want to do something, he has made sure that, as long as I want to achieve it, I will. He helps me, without putting on any pressure. He makes an effort to not just know, but also understand exactly what is going on in my educational career and is available when I need him to bounce off ideas. He encourages me to not procrastinate with three words that drive me crazy: “Just do it!” He’s been saying those words long before Shia LaBeouf started with his ‘motivational’ videos, and frankly, he’s far less irritating. Annoyingly, or maybe not so much, those three words have now been drummed into my head, and I find myself hearing my stepfather’s voice, which, more often than not, sets me straight to work.
Something else that inspires me about my stepfather is his relationship with my mother. This isn’t something that affects me directly, but the love between my mum and stepdad is something I have been fortunate to watch, and it is truly beautiful. They got married last September, and this followed what had been a traumatic year for us all, with the loss of my grandfather as well as other difficult incidents.
When I followed my mother down the aisle on her wedding day, my attention was drawn to the way my stepfather gazed at her. Not to be stereotypical, but it really was just like you would imagine in the movies. With the love that he had in his eyes for my mum, he simply seemed awe-struck, and, with that one look, all the problems of the past year and all of the obstacles we had struggled with as a family seemed to disappear. That look changed everything for me. I don’t have many experiences with relationships, I have never had a long-term boyfriend, but the adoration they share reminds me that true love does exist, and I can only hope that one day I am lucky enough to experience even half of the feelings they have for each other.
One of the other things that my relationship with my stepfather has taught me, is to always be content with who you are. Growing up as a teenage girl, of course, is not without its issues. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, where you think the whole world is against you, and the only person you care about is yourself. My stepdad often gave me a reality check on that, and of course, there were many teenage angst-filled arguments.
Over time, I have realised that he was right, and during the past six years, my stepfather has watched me grow from a teenager to a young woman. This has not just been a physical growth, but also, more recently, it has been an emotional one. What has aided this long journey is the support he has given me, which made me realise that I can’t, and neither should I want to, change who I really am. With his mentoring, dedication, no-nonsense attitude and unconditional love from him and my mother, my life has been blessed in so many ways. My stepdad hasn’t just played one role in my life. He’s been a father, a friend, a teacher and, finally, a true inspiration.