Superman, Batman, Super Woman, Cat Girl, Black Widow, Ironman, Thor, She-ra, Him-She, He-man, She-woman, Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Yoda, Spongbob Squarepants, Astroboy, Super Mario, Socrates, Plato, Nietzsche, Galileo, Houdini, Your Doctor, Your Chiropractor, An Uncle or Aunty, Your Older, Younger Sibling, or the ultimate – Mum and Dad.
Whether they’re related to you or not, they can be your biggest heroes. But at what expense?
Over the years mine have varied. Some are on that list, some are not. They changed for me over time and I wasn’t sure why that happened at first, until I realised what having a hero to look up to can do to your self-worth.
It actually messes up your self-worth. You may not realise it, but it makes you shut down what you want for yourself. And then there’s the moment when you realise they’re not as amazing as you originally believed. That’s when the heartbreaking begins.
I talk from experience. Perhaps too much experience. Different heroes of mine at different stages have shown me that they’re not who I thought they were and lead me to reassess how I saw them.
This usually happened as a result of them doing the opposite of what I expected them to do.
My parents have been my heroes in their own way.
I looked up to my mum for her incredible resilience and undying support for my search for answers to life and my dad’s ability to find simple solutions to the most complex problems that no-one else could solve.
However, through my admiration for them, I wasn’t allowing myself to step into those roles for myself. Because I believed they were qualities my parents had, not me. This lead me to be very disappointed when they weren’t living up to the image I kept of them.
Whenever they showed me the opposite traits, it left me feeling disappointed and sometimes heartbroken that they weren’t who I believed them to be.
The truth is that no-one can be a superhero. At least not without being a villain too.
Watch The Dark Knight Trilogy starring Christian Bale, where batman is focussed so much on being a hero that he becomes a villain in the eyes of society.
Whenever I’ve personally tried to keep a superhero image of myself for people around me, the harder I was making my life. I wasn’t allowing myself to be scared, fearful, vulnerable and confused. These are all human qualities that are super important. When we insist on believing that the people we look up to are amazing super-humans, no matter how close or distant, we lead them to inescapably disappoint us because they can’t keep it up. It’s an impossible ideal and it’s unfair.
It’s unfair on them and on ourselves. We’re the ones that create our own heartbreak through holding this unrealistic image of who they should be. We end up blocking out the other stuff they do so we can conveniently keep the image we hold of them.
Set them and yourself free by allowing yourself to see your heroes for who they really are; scared, fearful, clueless, challenged, sometimes helpless and mistake-making human beings.
If we’re unable to love our idols for who they really are – the human and super-human – then we’re trapping ourselves in a belief box that is crammed, sweaty and it stinks of living way too small.
The real thing that makes our idols heroes is that they’re human. That’s how they really want to be seen. That’s how we all really want to be seen.
Don’t forget your human side. If you do, someone will be sure to quickly remind you just how human you are. Trust me.