Ariel Gordon discusses the pros and cons of hero-worship.
As children, we all select our heroes and role models. Sometimes they’re the characters who look and act cool, sometimes they’re the singers who dress up and sing songs that make us smile or cry. Other times, they’re the people who matter to us because they seem big and powerful, and make our young eyes widen in awe. These people can be aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, siblings, or even the super chill dude who comes over to fix the toilet. Whoever this person may be, they change our views on the world. They mold us into teenagers and young adults with goals based on their opinions of the world. Sometimes they just teach us how to dress like an adult or what movies to watch, but other times these role models shape our entire lives and self-opinions.
However, as we get older, we become more aware of the world and those around us. We begin to see just who these role models are, and what the role they are modeling is, exactly. This is when things can get a little sticky. Upon adulthood, we can recognize people’s flaws. Everyone has them, but when it comes to the people who made us who we are today, it can be a little shocking when you discover for what you were aiming.
We all know it is a dangerous endeavor to go out and meet those singers, actors, lecturers, and artists whom we have come to worship and “understand” like a close friend. Why is this? What is so potentially hazardous? Yeah, the person can turn into a stone cold jerk and kill all your fantasies, but what’s so bad about that? Well, think about it…. This is the person whom you framed your life around. You were exerting your every energy in an attempt to be this person! Now, to get this far, only to find out that they’re nothing like what you had lusted over for all those years? What now? You’re alone in the world and you know at least part of your being consists of Jerky McDoogle. The person or people who you decided would make your life better, nay, make YOU better, are people who can give you incorrect and skewed views on the world. It’s like, maybe Britney Spears can wear pigtails as an adult, but not everyone can pull off that look. Seriously, guys, NOT everyone can pull it off. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Cameras and lights only give us a smidgen of the picture, the flawless bits. Just as childhood will do. You may know your Uncle Hooha is the only guy in the family who talks to you and treats you like an adult and lets you drive his car and helped you move into your first dorm, but what if you find out he’s also a meth-addict who steals from elderly people? You know it’s wrong and bad, and not at all who you want to be, but it can be hard to turn off that burning desire to be him. The desire won’t just vanish after 18, 25, 42… years of your hard work.
The reality is, you still are anxious to hang out with him because he has crazy stories and lots of weird friends. When you discover who these weird friends are who you’ve been hanging out with since you were 2 years old, you’re a bit turned off, but you’re likely in denial. Chances are, you’re coming up with reasons that it’s okay to hang out with meth addicts and dealers. You think next time will be different. Uncle Hooha is still a good guy! Albeit, misguided, but still hero-worthy.
This is a habit I think an adult must muster up the strength to release. There’s a time in life when one must become aware of what’s unsafe and unhealthy for their well-being. All preconceived notions of heroism must be altered. Adoration must be put on hold or completely eradicated.
Easier said than done.
Not to mention, people do change. Someone who truly was worth your admiration when you were a kid may turn into a selfish, judgmental snob. He/she may not be objectively a bad person, but he/she could be bad for you in other ways. This person may now criticize you or make you feel insignificant. You may no longer be of great importance in their life, therefore, be cast aside. Thus, leaving you brokenhearted and confused. Confused because it is not normal for a personality to suddenly change completely. Nor for a person to change priorities and views and interests drastically over time or all of a sudden. Learning this and accepting this new reality takes time, like slamming the brakes and having to wait a moment or two before the car actually stops. Spending time with this person may no longer work for you, and that’s okay. You’ve changed, as well. You need different things and thoughts and people. Don’t be afraid of letting go because you feel you will never have another person to fill that role. There will be more role models! Maybe they come from books or movies, from classes or jobs, maybe even people you used to look down upon will surprise you with a comeback. Whatever the case, the first step is untying yourself from the weak fish before you both drown. Today’s Superman can be tomorrow’s Doctor Octopus. You’ll be okay without Doc Ock, now he’s just holding you down.