It happens. Someone you deeply admire, look up to, or regard as a mentor, role model, teacher or guide “let’s you down.” They say or do something that makes you think “No, not you. You’re better than that, above it. Did I get this wrong?”
I recently experienced this type of letdown. It caught me off-guard and made me unsettled. So I sat with it. Is my reaction about her not being who I thought she was, or was it about the perfection I wanted or needed her to be?
Of course, it was both. I did think she was “above” the comment and “beyond” the behavior. And I did want her to be better than that so that I could continue to crown her a heroine.
As my heart caught up with my head, I realized how screwed up that was. When we hold others in high esteem for who and how they are in the world – wise, above pettiness, judgment,cattiness, or whatever – we dabble in a naive illusion. Its an illusion that holds that person apart from the very experiences, hard knocks, scabs and scar tissue from which insight and wisdom arise. Heroines don’t earn our admiration or the status we bestow upon them because they are perfect humans. They earn our admiration because they are imperfect humans who:
- are willing and able to look at themselves with compassion and clarity
- are walking the journey to recognize and work on their stuff
- use their imperfect humanity to become more compassionate, more connected, and more wise
A real heroine has no interest in a lofty pedestal because she’s walking that earthly plane with you and with me. She’s the perfectly-imperfect woman with the grace and guts to say: “I totally missed that” or “That’s my stuff getting in the way” or “I apologize. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
A real heroine is the woman who earns her regal crown by owning her humble, human cloak.