Last Sunday, I wrote a post about some reasons I found for why society needs heroes. I agree with a lot of the reasons on that list. Heroes are not just there to save us, but also to inspire us and provide a role model. Society as a whole needs these heroic people, but having a hero is also an intensely personal thing. I myself have many reasons for admiring the heroes I do, and most of them weren’t mentioned in the list. So here are my top five reasons why we, as individuals, need heroes.
- Heroes shoulder our burdens
- When I’m stressed, upset, or angry, one of the first things I do to get rid of the problem is write. I pick one of my characters who has trouble dealing with stress or grief or anger and put him through as much torment as I can think of. I do my best to break him, putting every ounce of pent-up emotion I have into creating his struggles. And then when I’m done, I let him rest. I let him catch his breath and realize that even though he’s gone through hell and back, he’s still okay. He can still fight.
- Heroes seem to have been designed to go through agony. All of our problems get put on their shoulders, only in an intensified form. But heroes were also designed to endure this hardship and get through it, to find a way to keep living. They take our burdens from us and show us how to get by. They show us that our problems are survivable.
- Heroes never let us be alone
- The heroes whom I admire most aren’t the strongest or the cleverest. They’re the ones who stand out the most vibrantly, whom I get to know best throughout the course of their adventures. They’re the ones whose voices stick in my head and whose personalities are as clear as day. My favourite heroes are the ones whom I feel like I know so well that I know what they would say or do in any situation.
- When we admire heroes, there is a part of them that we wish was in our lives–either as a part of us, or as a part of someone we know. And so we take this part we admire and bring it with us, carrying it throughout our daily lives. In this way, we’re taking our heroes with us. We tuck them away in a special place in our souls and call on their inspiration when we need help. When we are alone, part of us remembers the love we have for our heroes, and it gives us courage and strength.
- Heroes remind us that being human is okay
- Humans make mistakes, you’ve heard it before. We say the wrong things, do the wrong things, fail ourselves and others, make problems worse, create new problems, and generally just mess up. We also have moments of weakness and vulnerability, moments when fear and anxiety overwhelm reason, when we run away instead of fighting, when we hurt others or experience moments of cruelty and hate. We lose our tempers, we lose our minds, we lose control, and we lose our faith
- Heroes do all of this. They make mistakes and lose battles. They are afraid and sometimes run away. They can be weak and need help. They can be arrogant and refuse it. They lose reason, or kindness, or morality, and they lose their tempers too. Heroes experience every range of emotion, experience the broad arc between triumph and failure, and forget to be humble. Part of what makes heroes so attractive is the fact that they understand what we go through, because they’re human too (or maybe not quite so human, but have the same human faults anyways). Heroes realize that these flaws aren’t permanent, and that we can get past them.
- Heroes show us what matters in life
- Many people spend their lives trying to figure out what their purpose is. They try to find their calling– that one thing that they devote their lives to because it’s what they were meant to do. It isn’t an easy thing. How are we to know why we were born, or why humans were ever put on earth? Why do we live so briefly, only to die? We have a short time on earth, and so we seek desperately to make the most of it, and live it to its full potential. But when we don’t know what to do and feel lost, it can be discouraging.
- Most heroes have a purpose, or find one during their adventures. Whether it be to fight evil or to protect those they love, they often spend the entire course of their stories pursuing this purpose. They don’t worry about wasting their lives–they simply find a cause they believe in and fight for it. Their happiness and satisfaction comes from doing what they know is right.
- Heroes remind us that sometimes, evil wins
- There are days when things are determined to go wrong. Bad things happen and there’s nothing I can do to stop them, and so I try to deal with them as they come. I try to stay patient, to persevere even if I fail again and again, to keep calm and think my way through things logically. I try to solve the problem, and if I can’t, I try to find a different solution. I remind myself that it isn’t worth getting upset, angry, or worked up, because it’s just one small struggle that will end soon. But sometimes, at the end of the day, I go to bed exhausted and mentally strained, feeling like my efforts and my day were all a huge waste.
- Many stories have a happy ending. Heroes are constantly defying the odds and beating back evil. But sometimes, despite their best efforts, evil gets the upper hand and simply can’t be beaten. Battles are lost, and wars, and sometimes loved ones too. No matter how much pain or how many sacrifices a hero has made, it isn’t always enough. But I’ve never criticized a hero for the outcome of the battle–I’ve only loved them for how much they put into it.
Having a hero to admire is something so personal, only we can understand how it affects us. Only we know that feeling of adoration, aspiration, or anticipation when we think of our role models and saviours. Only we can know what it feels like to be saved by them. Only we can understand why they’re so important. And that’s what makes having a hero a beautiful thing.
No one else can take that from you.
What is your reason for having a personal hero?
May your heroes light up your soul and guide your weary feet, through all of life’s trials.