Wednesday, 23 October 2013

"I need a hero"...well, actually you don't...

Five days ago, I went to see Russell Brand's stand-up show 'The Messiah Complex. I'm a huge fan of his work and the way in which he vocalises himself does nothing but make my brain hurt and my heart beat faster.

After he spent 'quality time' with the audience at the beginning of the show, Brand then spent two hours dissecting just why people think it's so important to have a hero. He compared himself to Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Gandhi and Jesus Christ in an attempt to convince people that really, we're not that different to those we place upon pedestals.

Sure, comparing yourself to the Son of God is a bit much but it got me thinking...

I know that I, personally, am incredibly guilty of placing those I admire upon a higher platform; I cannot even fathom why I do this because I only have myself to blame when these people show me they’re nothing more than simple human beings after all. None of my ‘heroes’ can cure life threatening diseases or stop famine in third world countries but yet, there they are, perched just higher than reaching distance, reminding me that I could be so much more. More hard-working, compassionate, loving, dedicated, relaxed, fearful, interesting…whatever I could be more of, they are.

I can’t tell you the exact moment my head decides it’s a good idea to place a singular person at this height, and I can only guess as to why I allow myself to make this decision. As I said before, I’m the only one who gets hurt when a person fails to reach my ridiculous expectations.
Just like Brand mentioned in his show, he, too, is guilty of marking somebody with the ‘hero’ status. Sure, he admitted to idolising four VERY famous, brilliant men but it’s not just ‘celebrities’ we’re capable of going starry-eyed over.

Back in April this year, I could officially say I had met every single one of my heroes. What started out as a joke – motivation, if you like – between me and a friend had actually become a bit of a checklist:
- Get e-mail address of particular ‘hero’ (usually a writer)
- Send/receive e-mails with them
- Arrange drinks/meeting
- Spend a whole day prior to meeting them, throwing up with nerves and convincing myself I wasn’t enough of a good writer to be in their presence.

This process happened five different times. Each time, I left the meeting in an intense state; I had just spent the evening with somebody I’ve idolised since I’ve been old enough to make my own decisions. I’m 20. I officially have nobody else I want to meet…except John Lennon but that’s impossible. It’s a complete understatement to say that the intense state mentioned above is nothing but overwhelming.

The next day, I’d be in a daze. People would try to talk to me and all I could say was “they think I’m a good writer. Like…a really good writer. They said I have so much potential and they’re excited to see my journey progress”. God, it was like I was possessed with this horrible, self-obsessed demon that stopped me from caring about anything other than what these people thought about me. I wish somebody had slapped me. But at the same time, that feeling of hearing a hero of yours praise you…it’s incomparable, it’s amazing and it’s addictive.

At the beginning of this process, I decided that all I could really do was get better. After all, that’s what my heroes were doing. They weren’t slowing down just because somebody praised their work and if anything, I just wanted to be like them. I wanted to be that good that somebody might even consider eventually looking up to me.

Suddenly, my heroes began to turn into my friends; they became the first person I’d call when in need, the most regular name flashing up on my phone, the person my Facebook would automatically assume was with me whenever I ‘checked-in’anywhere. It got to the point where I was living out their dream, side tracking my own, just to be a little bit like them.

I had the best time. I was living a life I had never, ever planned and enjoying every single minute of it. I was phoning my Mum to tell her I had spent the night partying with her favourite chart topper or Hollywood’s most famous leading man, coming into work after two hours sleep, wearing the same clothes as the night before, leaving the house at 6pm and finding myself on a different side of London at 6am. It was magical and compelling and I was living a 19 year old’s dream.

I had conversation topics to suit any situation, I had experiences under my belt that other people couldn’t even begin to get their head around and things that had once seemed impossible were now my reality. And what was even better about this, was that I had my heroes on speed dial/e-mail/next to me throughout this whole adventure.

On those rare nights when I found myself in my own bed at 11pm, I would spend hours obsessing over how amazing it was to have these people in my life; five very different people, all teaching me very different things. The experiences I had with them separately all created this huge bubble of ridiculousness in my head, a bubble that I soon discovered was about to burst.
This was the part of Russell Brand’s show whereby he compared himself to his heroes. He had built the audience, and himself, up to this point where we all genuinely believed life could not get any better. He had somebody to aspire to be like; he was constantly getting better now that he had something/somebody to aim towards…and then came the biggest flaw: the realisation that really, these people are no different to us already.

They are human. They need food and water and sleep to function. They have parents and maybe brothers and sisters. They have their own dreams. They have to go to the supermarket to buy cleaning products, toilet paper and things like butter. They go to the toilet. They suffer from hangovers and comedowns.
Every single person on this Earth has flaws. Perfection is impossible – unless you’re Channing Tatum, of course…

I soon realised that I had completely put my own journey on hold because it was too time-consuming. I wanted to spend every single possible moment, savouring in the taste of what the life of somebody I admired was like. But, was I any closer to becoming an award-winning journalist? Did I have anything, other than the dark circles under my eyes, to show my Mum I was one step closer to fulfilling my dreams?
If the answers to both of those were no, was I at l least any closer to convincing a really rich man to marry me? At least his wealth would distract my parents from my journey that they watched start and were now being forced to view as it came to a startling halt whilst I filled up on expensive alcohol?

Whilst some of the audience recoiled in shock as Russell Brand ended the show with a comparison on how he, just a simple (yet ridiculously sexy) man from Essex, was like Jesus Christ, I sat in awe as he encapsulated my outlook on heroes over the last few months with a few simple sentences.

Of course, I still place people on a pedestal. There are some I will always hold with high regards. I refuse to delete certain messages/e-mails/photos purely because they remind me of a particular person, or a memory associated with them. But I’ve given up on expecting these people to make me better. That responsibility falls on my own shoulders.
I’m learning to utilise what my ‘heroes’ teach me for the long term, the bigger picture. But I’m also learning how to edit what they’re teaching me so that these lessons completely mould around my own journey.

They may praise my writing skills, provide me with a ‘Free Entry’ pass to everything exciting and keep me distracted from my thoughts but I know now that what’s more important is my ability to turn my own dreams into reality. And I also need to focus on finding myself that rich man…

Monday, 7 October 2013


E-mails saved in a folder re-named as 'Archived', with subject lines, detailing
the amount of times I kissed you, how many minutes we spent together and
memorable dates.
Dates only you remember, which is strange because I remember everything,
including the amount our last adventure together cost you.

I kept receipts and cinema tickets and birthday cards and mixed CDs you had made me.
But I couldn't keep the videos I recorded of you laughing,
because the thought of somebody else being the reason for that laugh
only makes my heart heavy.

You kissed me like a friend, the last time I kissed you,
but it was hard on my mouth so I knew you meant it.
I wanted us to be closer, yet you grew distant.
The phone calls stopped.

I can't help but wonder if the other girl,
the girl you could take home to your parents because she shared the
same beliefs as you, gets to hear your laugh.

But two weeks ago, your name flashed onto my phone screen, and you told me you heard a song and it reminded you 

of me.