Who is your Superhero?

Talyn Rahman-Figueroa, CEO of Grassroot Diplomat, reflects on the importance of having a role model and mentor in personal and professional development.

It is natural to think of New Year as a time of renewal, where we reflect and consider how we can better ourselves. My plans never stray far from wanting to create a stronger version of myself, physically, mentally, spiritually. Strong body, strong mind, healthy and pure of heart. The need and want to become ‘stronger’ is something I picked up from my role model, my superhero who is neither real nor female. Finding female role models is tough, simply because there is not enough focus on what women do, rather than how they look or act.

Picking up a copy of the Evening Standard Magazine one day, I was encouraged to see a young Asian woman on the cover with the title: ‘Top Girl: In my Industry, Women Earn More’. I couldn’t wait to see what industry that was and perhaps consider ways of collaborating with her. My heart sank when she referred to modelling having higher-earning women, and I felt crushed with the realisation that women have a long way to go in being the ‘top girl’ in industries where we are not ogled.

When I was young, I used to complain about how I should have been born a boy. I always felt as though girls had so many restrictions in society. I was told I could never be strong, and women should let men get on with the tough stuff in life. I was constantly being put down for my gender and it turned me into an angry teenager. My superhero, Ryu, showed me that everyone could be strong – mentally, physically, spiritually, if they believed in themselves enough.

Ryu is the fireball-throwing, gi-wearing main protagonist of fighting video game Street Fighter. I know – how and why would a little girl aged 10 want to imitate a fictional, brawny Japanese martial artist? He wasn’t real and I could never impress him, but that didn’t matter. Ryu took me on a journey of self-discovery, moving away from being a shy little girl to the strong and confident woman you see today. He focuses heavily on self-improvement, is diplomatic in his communication despite the martial arts exterior, somewhat awkward in society but highly-respected by his peers. He dedicates himself completely to his cause and never judges others. He sounds like the perfect diplomat to me, and through his experiences and actions, I eventually learned that one is not born a woman, but rather becomes a woman. I finally felt comfortable in my skin, and wanted to prove to the world that women are strong and can do anything a man could do. So, who is your superhero and why?

I am a Grassroot Diplomat, and I believe in building a world full of role models and superheroes who inspire themselves and others to strive for what they believe in. Join me, and together, we can help you become the best version of yourself.

Talyn Rahman-Figueroa