Idols: Mythological beings we, as children, set our eyes and hearts upon as arrows to guide us toward adulthood.
Familiar questions asked throughout grade school are: "Who is your idol?" "Who do you look up to?" or simply, "Who is your hero?"
For some children, it's easy because their heroes are already a work of fiction: Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.
Their heroes will never be anything less than how they are written.
For other children, it’s more personal because their role models are their moms, dads, uncles and/or grandmothers.
Some people will never see their role models as anything short of perfection. These people are unknowingly fortunate for that.
I am not one of these people.
Children need heroes and role models because it’s inevitable they will need someone to provide them with direction; it’s how we're wired.
It’s nearly impossible to dictate whom a child will aspire to be, but for me, it was my uncle.
For a majority of my life, he was everything I wanted to become.
He was the artist I wanted to be: unapologetic, loud, creative and, at times, moody.
In my young mind, he was the epitome of cool chaos, a walking mess who knew exactly what he was capable of at any given time.
He would work whole-heartedly toward his goals, but alas, fate was cruel to him and a vicious cycle continued to hinder his potential.
And there I was, 14 years his junior, defending and protecting his progress every single time "fate" threw him back into my grandparents’ home, broke and unapproachable.
I then learned it was not this mystical force known as "fate" that obstructed his life, but rather he did. He was just a person who couldn't handle his life.
The day I realized this about my uncle is a red stain in the carpet of my mind (I say red because cabernet is my comfort of choice in any given situation).
My first feeling was anger — a bright red flash that makes you hit someone or throw something to make a loud enough crash to divert your attention.
Then, it was heartache and finally, sadness. After going through this, I can offer some advice; this unpleasant lesson has some wonderful side effects:
This doesn't seem like wonderful lesson, but having this realization and coming out on the other side is a sign of maturity.
It solidifies the fact that humans are imperfect creatures — every last one of them.
It’s a painful lesson, but a lesson nonetheless. It helps stimulate the growth of an individual, which is a good thing!
"Damaged" Doesn't Mean Worthless
Your role model is a little f*cked up, and that's absolutely fine. Being damaged doesn't mean being worthless, and it especially doesn't mean you're not worthy of love.
Many of our childhood heroes are twisted adults, but we love them anyway.
The same goes for us: We all are f*cked up in some way or another, and we are still worthwhile people.
Empathy Is A Virtue
This knowledge will never unveil itself to you as it does to others.
Sometimes, heroes have actual problems and sometimes, they’re just older and on their ways to their next lives.
Other times, they are just plain disappointing.
The blessing is once you recognize it in another person, you can help them process the information (or at least lend an experienced ear).
Ignorance Is Bliss
I'd argue most people realize their idols are human. However, there are the unicorns that don't. Do. Not. Burst. Their. Bubbles.
I repeat: Do not ruin it for those who still think their heroes are untouchable.
No one likes the kid who ruined Santa Claus, so don't be that person. Let them live in their bubbles and be happy for them.
Find Your Outlet
The process of learning about the imperfect humans to whom we look up isn't an easy one.
Emotions come in hot, but it's best not to suffocate them.
Dealing with your feelings in a healthy way is another step toward maturity. I began writing more and got into kickboxing to help me cope.
It helps to get the energy out one way or another, so long as you're not hurting yourself or anyone else.
Magic Is Still Real
8-year-old you is the one still feeling the pain from realizing Superman isn't all that super.
Just because that part of your inner child had to grow up does not mean you have to stop believing in magic (or watching Disney movies).
It is not the end of the world. So, put on those pompom socks and go see the new "Beauty and the Beast" movie in theaters.
Just, for the love of God, do not bring back crimped hair. We really don't need to do that to the next generation.
Now, my fellow semi-grown up humans, if you have unlocked that level of adulthood, congrats!
You made it to the other side alive and well. If you have no idea what I could possibly be talking about, then that's cool, too.
I hope some of you will find solace in the fact you’re not alone, and your feelings are every bit realized.
If you don’t find that, I hope that you find an understanding. Everyone who is jaded has a reason, and magic is totally real.
Cheers to us, cheers to being human and cheers to being damaged.