Tuesday, October 7, 2014

When You Realize Your Heroes Are People Too

I longed to be like Pam. Her crimped blonde perm,  long, red acrylic nails, and bright red-salmon colored lipstick. Hey, it was the 80’s and she was totally ‘80’s Hot.’

I would go through Pam’s purse, taking out every item and asking her what it was for. She would then proceed to paint my nails and let me wear her lipstick even though my parents didn’t allow me to at the ripe old age of six. Pam was my hero.

She spent a lot of time at our house; over for dinners several nights a week, would babysit me and my sisters, and go to family events with us. Pam was over one afternoon and I walked outside to play jump rope (which is what we did before Facebook and Netflix). Little did my child-heart know that moment would bring my hero crashing to the ground. Pam was outside smoking.

My heart was crushed. I cried and ran inside, so angry. I swore I would never smoke and I would never trust Pam again.

Ironically, I picked up a smoking habit when I was 17 years old, but that’s a story for another day. The point is that I couldn’t handle my ideal image of my hero being tarnished by her humanity.

I think this is true of many of us. It's why we get into an uproar when celebrities or public figures show failure. If we were actually consciously aware of every person being human and full of error, we wouldn’t be surprised when humanity shows. It would be expected, in fact.

I spent a lot of time believing that my heroes couldn’t be actually human. I needed them to be on a pedestal so I could feel secure being connected to them. Even at six years old.

Now in my early 30’s I’m seeing that people are just that... people. They will be late to appointments. We will not like all of the same books. They will think I’m ridiculous for some thing I do with my life. I will believe them stupid for believing some thing they do. This is humanity.

I sat across from one of my long time mentors tonight who I have not seen in a while. She’s invested in my leadership training beyond what anyone has before, and people pay her a lot of money to do that. She’s given me free education and real time feedback on my bullshit. I love this woman.

It was interesting, though. We actually disagree on many topics or beliefs, yet we are able to hug it out and respect what the other thinks. I could not have done that a decade ago. I was able to stand back, admire her, and graciously state what I thought. There was no conflict. Just friends holding space for each other.

So maybe I’ve gotten to the place where disagreeing or holding room for someone to be human and different is expected. It’s not threatening. It’s comfortable. After all, my heroes are people, too. 

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