A number of years ago, a friend spoke to us of the dangers of Hero Worship, as he called it. I was in my early 20s at the time. This concept was fairly revolutionary to me, though it struck a cord immediately.
There was reason to take his advice seriously. He had achieved a bit of success in his particular industry, and many regarded him as a hero of their own. He had fans and fan pages, websites that are still active to this day. I got emails from strangers asking about him. He would occasionally be recognized in public. When we would go to concerts, the band we went to see would hang around after to speak with him.
So I listened when he told us this.
I'm not knocking role models. Having Role Models can be quite helpful, especially if you need a bit of extra education in life (like me). As children, I think we emulate our heroes because we don't yet know who we are.
When I was growing up, I idolized first Marilyn Monroe, and then as I became a teenager, Julia Roberts. I don't know why I picked Julia, I haven't actually seen a movie of hers in about 10 years. I think I wanted someone a little closer to my age, or at least someone who was actually alive. I collected pictures of her and taped them to my wall. (I'd already amassed a pretty hefty collection of Marilyn photos by that point.)
Fortunately, I grew out of this when I turned 20, although I still have a few choice photos of Marilyn around my house, for decor purposes. She is most definitely iconic. I don't think I was making a mistake in idolizing Marilyn and Julia when I was young. I learned from it, and I appreciate the qualities in them that I originally admired. I don't actually want to make similar choices to either of them, especially doomed Marilyn.
As an adult, I learned that Hero Worship is no longer helpful. It can convince you that you are somehow different than the hero, that you don't have the same potential as they did before they achieved success. It makes it hard to see that potential in yourself. I want to know that I am just as capable of attaining my dreams as anyone I greatly admire. If I become too fixated on them, their power, their success, it will distract me from achieving my own. They are not better than me, they are no different. To view myself beneath them confuses the reality of the situation, which is to say, that I am just as capable as they are. I am special too.
Occasionally I am guilty of it still. Recently I discovered an actress that I hadn't heard of before, and found her to be particularly interesting, particularly pretty, particularly lucky, particularly deserving, and I felt jealous. I wished to be in the right place at the right time too, to experience such fame and fortune and magazine covers.
I had to stop myself. I am particularly lucky. I am interesting, I am deserving. I have things that others do not, that others envy in me. I am in Love. Greatly in love, more than I was ever told was possible. If I achieved nothing else in my life, I consider myself rich. This is not to say I plan on halting my long list of impossible, lofty goals. It just means that I am particularly capable of achieving them, and I must always remind myself of such. I am on the right path, already.
My future is going to be very exciting. My now already is.