Heroes elevate us. Elevation, as an emotion, can happen when we witness virtuous acts of remarkable moral goodness. Some of us may recall a similar feeling when reading great literature or seeing an exceptional piece of art. But generally speaking, it’s a mix of emotions that lifts us up — and in case of heroism, makes us feel a bit more optimistic towards humanity.
Heroes are awesome. Which is why those elevated by their presence feel inclined to open up to or affiliate with them. That’s why the rest of us feel safe and in a way, confident that when things go south, someone will be there to patch it all up. When all else fails, in our minds, they just don’t. So, why are we talking about sending them off? Without them, who’s going to save us?
Let the glorified versions of your heroes go
I’m not telling you to literally axe your heroes, or their statues. This is also not to say you should cast your dreams aside, or not have people you look to for guidance or inspiration. Instead, think of it as allowing your heroes to be real human beings, and, in turn, allow yourself to be held to attainable standards. In your own terms, become the hero you need.
The idea itself isn’t new. You might have heard the phrase ‘kill your heroes’ elsewhere. In your playlist even. AWOL Nation’s Kill Your Heroes is banger of a song and it has that freaking cool lyric video to boot. Here, the band talks about succeeding without having goals set too high, or having idols. The song offers a subtle reminder that we can let go of ideals and simply start doing things that make us feel alive — like volunteering. We don’t need to become someone else to qualify. But more on that later.
Heroes nurture us when we are young. Which is why it isn’t uncommon to hear our peers say that their childhood superheroes are their parents. But our folks aren’t always going to be here for us and they’ll straight up tell us that.
Since they’re usually with us from the beginning, they’re also often the first heroes we outgrow. It doesn’t necessarily mean we become better versions of them, nor do we leave them behind. We just become independent. What we kill in that process is the idea that they will always make the big decisions for us. That they will always provide.
For some, what we grow out from next are characters we love. The comic book heroes. Our favorite actors or movie characters. The protagonists we followed in books, anime, or games. We eventually realize not only their limitations, but also ours. We don’t forget them entirely. What most of us do, for this instance, is take a piece of them and move on. And by moving on, we actually encounter heroes in real life that we can count on outside of our immediate family.
Accept that our heroes are not perfect
Here’s something important people often forget on social media: ‘we can still enjoy something without accepting everything about it and its creators.’
One of my early influences as a writer is Haruki Murakami. There’s no elaborate rhyme or reason why I bought Kafka on The Shore. If I’m being honest, I literally judged that piece of art by its cover, and there’s a very specific saying about that, right?
Regardless, I loved that book. Murakami? I still think highly of him. But like some of his readers, I felt like there was something amiss with how he would write some of his female characters. He was a hero — creatively. But I was never going to go full Murakami or anybody else for that matter. I was set to figure my own voice in writing. Which is, of course, just a deliberate mash-up of my influences. But who’s complaining?
Your heroes may fail you in some manner, but that won’t invalidate their success. You, on the other hand, can pick what you will take away from them, just like you can pick who you follow and choose as your influences. Additionally, it’ll be up to you if you want to glorify someone else’s failings or not. But a lot of them didn’t bother. So, why should you?
Sometimes, you’ll have to let go of your heroes to give room to the person you are becoming. For the most part, ‘killing our heroes’ should lead us to a place where we can step up.
Instead of thinking that The Philippines is going to magically get better — because people who we think are more capable than us, will inevitably make it so — we can start thinking towards what we can do now so we can fast-track that change. Ideally, we start exploring what we can contribute with the things we already have.
You can make a difference, volunteer
Many of us, when talking of social issues, fall into the habit of thinking that someone else will deal with those issues on our behalf. Sometimes, we even discredit ourselves, along with what we can contribute, because we don’t think we fit the mold of a modern hero — in this case, a volunteer. There’s a strong consensus within our generation that volunteers are everyday heroes. But let’s pull the curtain back for a second, and ask what is an “Everyday Hero” anyway?
The everyday hero lies in every one of us and is usually expressed by simple, ordinary actions. It’s the simple acts of kindness that we do out of compassion, courage, and love.
There’s a tendency for us to get dwarfed by the social conundrums around us. We feel small. But that’s not where we fail. It’s when we start to think and make others feel that we’re not capable of making a difference as is. That we are not allowed to start small. But that’s exactly how iVolunteer Philippines started its journey ten years ago and that’s how many of our nonprofit partners kicked off theirs.
Now, you can start your adventure the same way. The caveat, of course, is that you won’t have to do it alone. If you’re new to volunteering, let us be the first to welcome you through iVolunteer’s Start Your Adventure talk this coming September 28th. Here, you’ll have a chance to meet the people behind iVolunteer Philippines, as well as some of the volunteer leaders from our community partners. We’re not gonna ask you to axe your heroes here, don’t worry. Not until you’re ready. What we’ll try to make you realize is that you can become one yourself and at the same time, stand side by side with others.
Summing up, we need to kill the perception that we cannot amount to something when compared to our champions. We also need to accept that people, including ourselves, have something good and bad in them. That we can like each other even though we’re not perfect. Most especially ourselves. We need to consider everyone’s complexity, even those we look up to the most. But we mustn’t fall into the trap of living up to someone else’s standards.
At the end of the day, you do you. And when the opportunity presents itself, maybe do what is right by others, too.
Up for the challenge? Visit https://www.ivolunteer.com.ph/ today to learn where you can start volunteering in Metro Manila.