There are as many different sayings about heroes as you can imagine, and for the most part, they aren’t all that flattering. The general message is that the moment you put your faith in a hero figure, they will let you down.
In truth, there is some merit to this argument. Putting another human up on a pedestal and setting them apart from other people is rarely the best idea. The simple truth is that whoever you choose, they are a human being. They, just like you, have flaws, and making them into something more than a person might not be the greatest move.
That’s not to say we should set aside the concept of heroes and heroines altogether. Perhaps, we just need to readjust what we see as heroic. Let’s look at how we can take inspiration from those who we admire, without needing to treat them as an unimpeachable icon.
What do you admire about them?
The annals of history are filled with people who walked so others could run. The Wright brothers found a way to achieve sustained flight, and others built on their achievement to the point where people walked on the moon. Everything remarkable that we have in this world, we have because someone had the self-confidence to put themselves out there. If there is an individual who stands out in the crowd, and it is inspirational to you, then there is really nothing wrong with wanting to emulate what makes them remarkable.
You may later learn that they had some flaws that take the shine off for you, but the fact of the matter is that you don’t need to emulate everything about them. So if your favorite singer inspired you to pick up a mic and give it a go, you don’t need to feel cheated if you later learn that they sometimes lip-synced. You admired them, and it created a springboard for you to do something worthwhile. That still matters.
You don’t need to be someone else – be yourself and take inspiration!
The issue with hero worship is that every human is different, with their own potential and their own mind, and if you try to embody every characteristic of another person, you’re erasing yourself. Even if the person you want to emulate is pretty great in all areas, without any problematic aspects, you still shouldn’t hide your own light under a bushel. Take inspiration in the areas that merit it, but remember to put your spin on things.
You can be a great singer, and take some vocal cues from Rihanna while retaining your individuality. If you want to make an impact on the sports field, you can follow JJ Watts workout routine but keep your own pregame mental preparation. Remember that for every star you look up to and see as the greatest ever, they also had their own heroes. There may be echoes of those idols in the way your heroes conduct themselves, but they are unique in their own way and so are you.
If your hero “lets you down”, don’t rush to judge
We can probably all remember a time when we looked up to someone and they made a mistake, or a poor decision that left us conflicted. We invest a lot of time and mental energy in supporting someone – and we may even invest money in buying their records, tickets for their movies or admission to a stadium to watch them play – and when we feel that that investment has been disrespected, it can be felt like a hammer blow. This can cause us to judge someone extra-harshly.
Just remember that anyone you admire has their own life to live, their own pressures and their own priorities. It can be tough when you feel like you have been let down, but also remember you rarely hear the full story about any situation. With all of that taken into account, there may be very good reason to withdraw your support from someone who was previously a hero, but also remember that no matter how let down you feel, there will be others who have been affected much worse by those disappointing actions. In the end, it will not be to you that their apologies should be directed.
It’s no bad thing to have an inspiration; everyone who has achieved something great owes a certain debt of gratitude to someone who showed them the way. But remember that we’re all human, and our own achievements sit alongside our errors; we wouldn’t be human without the good and the not-so-good.