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Idealized let down

March 15, 2012

So I am taking a break from the knitting challenge. Instead I figured I would post a reflection piece. 

It is a profound experience when a person you admire, someone you consider your role model, suddenly becomes this real flawed person. Whether this is through study of historical figure and you start to realize that they are not this grand thinker all of time, instead they are capable of mistakes and had doubts. It could be your parents and the reality that they are not these completely amazing people, instead just like you they have had moments of weakness, they have been foolish, or even mean spirited. It could be grandparents, who you come to realize are not so sweet and innocent and are instead manipulative and negative. It could be a teacher, whom you aspire to be like and you become painfully aware that they are not this mythical super star, instead they are as human as yourself. When this happens it can be a soul shattering experience, instead of feeling elated at the idea that they are just as human as you, and that they are just as incapable of perfection as you, it can produce this incredible sorrow at the ideal being lost. This is not to say that it is their fault you feel this way. Almost always you are the one to hold them aloft, the one to place them in this delicate box. Your view on them may in no way reflect reality, but never the less you have placed them there. You look to them for inspiration you admire their life, or their work, and you strive to be a better person because of who you see them as. When this is pulled away, and you are left with the harsh realities of life it can be difficult to find your footing. The things you were once sure of, are no longer true, again this is based on your own construct, and the person who was admired is not at fault for being human. It is the idealized concept that is mourned. This is becomes even more profound when you realize how much you depended on this idealized identity in helping to define who you are. While I am sure there are people who will say that there is a reason to not venerate people, and that the only person you are hurting is yourself, what I am saying is that hurt is real. The hurt of having something you held to such high regard shattered, is a hard thing to grasp. It is easy to lash out at the person, claim they misled you, claim that it is all their fault. The reality of course, is that you placed them their, your dreams and desires elevated them, and in the end you are the one that did this.

How can you get over the hurt? An easy answer is to longer place people on pedestals, no longer see them as something greater than being human. Flaws are a part of life and to model yourself or to admire someone for an idealized perfection is to bring this pain on yourself.  You could become angry at the person, you could become hurt by the person. You could criticize yourself for thinking they were anything more than a simply flawed human. You could try to ignore the realities and keep them aloft, you could accept them as a flawed individual but still admire them. Any of these can be done, but it still doesn’t make the sense of loss and the sense of sadness disappear. The sense of pain and loss can be a very real thing, and I feel as though there needs to be a mourning process, an acceptance of the grief. This is a loss that can feel incredibly close to you and very real. How you handle it has to be decided by you. There is no right answer to this and there probably never will be, but it is an important step in growing up. Realizing people will let you down, and they will not be perfect, it is a hard lesson, but a necessary one.


From → Musings, Writing

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