Superman is Full of Crap

When I was six, Strawberry Shortcake was my perpetual hero and the personification of all that was good in life. By day, she kicked the Purple Pie Man’s ass. By night, she slept on my pillow, infusing the air with the most delicious faux-strawberry aroma you could ever imagine.

Every morning, I would brush her choppy hair with a red doll comb. Each swipe would release that heavenly strawberry scent into the air. I’d inhale deeply, trapping the fruity essence in my nose, and head off to school.

We spent hours together. Perusing the Avon catalog. Watching cartoons. Formulating plans to off the Purple Pie Man so that Strawberryland would be safe for babies and dogs. Every so often I would raise her hair to my nose and whiff. It was mouthwatering.

Soon, though, her tresses began to lose that delectable strawberry scent. No amount of brushing would bring it back. And, finally, it was gone. Her eyes became less bright. More beady. She started saying “damn” a lot.

Heroes don’t say “damn.”

And Strawberry Shortcake began sleeping on the shelf instead of on my pillow.

 

Why do we have heroes, anyway?

 

I wrestled with this question recently while attending a large conference full of people trying to do good work in the world. In the period of a weekend, I lost two of my heroes. As in, they fell… hard… off the pedestals I had put them on.

It was inevitable. Being an imperfect human being means you fall. A lot.

 

Bring a helmet.

 

You see, when we make people our heroes, we do so because they embody those bits and pieces of humanity that we wished we possessed. Superman is a hero because he fights injustices. Winston Churchill is a hero because he was able to rally a world with his impassioned words. Mother Teresa is a hero because of her unconditional compassion towards those who were suffering.

People stir my heart.

At the same time, our world has been filtered to death. Heroes are  no exception.

A typical post on Superman’s Facebook page might read:

 

superman post 1

 

In reality, his day probably went more like this:

 

superman facebook 2

 

 

Persona is not the same thing as The Person.

 

And that’s why my heroes fell.

I had built up expectations about what they would be like, based on personas that had been carefully polished on social media and then embellished by the inner-workings of my own frenetic mind. When I finally met these heroes of mine, I was disappointed because they were so incredibly… human.

And kind of shitty, as most humans are from time to time. Dismissive. Rude. Insecure.

 

I didn’t catch my heroes on a bad day. I caught them living life.

 

They are glorious messes that have bills to pay, drains to unclog, and dreams to make happen.

Just like me.

I am right beside them in the trenches.

 

What if, instead of heroes, we had allies? What if we stopped holding people to impossible standards? What if we viewed others through the common lens of what it means to be human?

 

Less heroes, more vulnerability

 

Less pedestals, more conversations over coffee.

 

Superman thanks you.

 

MaisieSmith-Sig-XS

You Might Also Like

9 Comments

  • Reply
    stacey k
    July 31, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    ‘Persona’ is not the same thing as ‘The Person’. YES. so important for us to remember when trying to understand others, as well as when communicating ourselves. thanks!

    • Reply
      Maisie
      August 1, 2014 at 12:22 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Stacey! It’s so easy to get caught up in the filters of reality. We’re all in the trenches together, figuring it out.

      Have a fab day. 🙂

  • Reply
    Leah
    July 31, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Maisie- you have a serious gift of putting the unspoken thoughts of many into the written word. I can imagine it to be a bummer, when our heroes fall from the pedestal. I haven’t quite experienced it myself, mostly because I haven’t seen many outside of the internet world, but I can imagine the feeling and I love your reflections on it. Thanks for sharing as always.

    • Reply
      Maisie
      August 1, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      Thanks, Leah! I’m always surprised by the musings of my mind. It’s been taking some deep dives lately and it’s been an interesting process trying to get those thoughts onto paper.

      As always, I appreciate your support… and pics of beer!

  • Reply
    Beth
    July 31, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Strawberry Shortcake would never say “damn!” Crap, now you knocked her off my pedestal. Well, it’s better to be on equal footing anyway, right? Great post as usual!

    • Reply
      Maisie
      August 1, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      Aw, Beth. It’s a sad day when our dolls start getting potty mouths. It all starts with “damn”, you know. 🙂

      Keep making those big X’s on your calendar. The end is near, my dear!

  • Reply
    Berni Xiong
    July 31, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Damn.

    That’s all I’ve got.

    #standingovationensues

    • Reply
      Maisie
      August 1, 2014 at 12:27 pm

      Berni

      You are fabulous.

      That is all… for now.

  • Reply
    Jojanneke
    August 23, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Oh dear,
    I couldn’t agree more.
    Met one of my heroes last year. It was, well ehm, interesting. Hero fell from pedestal.
    Wrote this a few dats afterwards: http://jojannekevandenbosch.tumblr.com/post/80055270179/the-last-time-one-of-my-heroes-fell-down-from-his.
    I decided to be my own hero.

  • Leave a Reply