I have driven all over my city. I’ve been to different places and followed different directions. The one thing I’ve learned is there’s often more than one way to get someplace. And, depending upon who you ask, someone will tell you that their way is always the quickest. I’m sure this is true.
I’m sure this is true, the same as it’s true with doctors or car mechanics. According to most, “Their” guy is the best guy (or woman, if you prefer). Meanwhile, with the preferred pronouns being excluded, as good as anyone is in this world; the truth is we’re all human. No one walks on water. No one is above mistakes. And put simply, no one is perfect.
The following story is important to me for different reasons. I say this because each day, we have the chance to meet people. This is true for each and every day of our life, from now until our very last breath. We meet teachers and mentors. We meet friends, allies and also some enemies.
It is notable to say that we meet people who seem to exemplify the right way to live. To us, they are picture perfect. We hold them up to a different standard. In fact, they are the supreme standard. They know the tricks or how to handle life in any way, shape or form. We idolize them as heroes. But why?
I used to idolize people. I used to put people on pedestals because of who they were or what they taught me. I did this in my personal life and in business as well. And then one day, I learned these people were only human. I learned that like me, they have faults and flaws. I learned that even the so-called best will make big mistakes or have big secrets that no one knew about. More importantly, I learned that no matter how someone dresses or what kind of clothes they wear, we all put our pants on one leg at a time.
If anything, one of the more difficult parts of my early sobriety was to learn that not everyone is on board the way they say they are. I had to learn this the hard way, which was painful. The same as me, we were all in the same room for the same reason.
There were people who I admired so greatly. In fact, there were people that I met in my early career whose life seemed absolutely perfect to me. I would’ve done anything they said. I would have fought for them and endured trying times, just to show my loyalty. I’d have argued with anyone who spoke out against them. In my mind, these were the people who knew how to live. These were my idols and as such, no one could tell me anything otherwise.
I remember learning the truth about one of my first sober role models. He was living a secret life that no one really knew about. Turns out, this man whom I swore knew everything about life and how to live; this man whom I would have gone to war for, done anything for, and this man whom I believed in so deeply and greatly that if asked, I’d have dedicated my life just to show how deeply I believed in his teaching; and this man whose kindness and whose sternness and ability to teach me to live my life according to certain principles; I learned that he was living a lie. He was drinking and yet, he was telling me what to do, how to be, how to live, act, talk and behave.
His lessons were true. And, to be clear, I became a better person because of this. However, regardless of how valuable the lessons were to me; it was as though I was betrayed. I was beaten to learn that someone who I glorified and idolized so highly was no different from you or me or anyone else for that matter.
The same goes for me as well. I have been considered to be a teacher to some. There are people who I’ve met that appreciated my story. They’ve appreciated my coaching. And then one day, they found out that I am human too.
I suppose I understand why we idolize people. I understand why we adore people, so blindly and devote ourselves. In my case, I needed someone to show me the way. I needed to see someone pull off a trick, which to me was something unreal. The fact that someone like this was real meant that I could have hope. Thus, if someone this high fell from grace; then what would this mean for someone like me?
Please understand that at one point, I swore no one could ever face life and do it alone. I swore that everyone had a trick or a scam. To me, I thought life was lopsided. There was no such thing as an even playing field. There was no way to keep it level.
Everyone had something up their sleeve to counteract the imbalance of life. Also, I saw myself as less-than or weak. I never realized that I was in fact strong.
This is what happens when we put others on a pedestal. We lower ourselves and hold others to such a great standard. Then one day, they fall from grace.
They become human. And know what?
Where does our hope go from here?
I remember listening to a man whom I thought was a true life hero. I swore this person would make it through anything. I couldn’t understand why they fell. I didn’t know why this happened or what they were thinking.
I was destroyed when I heard the news. I could not wrap my head around the loss this person must’ve felt. How could this happen? What they taught was so valuable. How could someone allow something so valuable to be cheapened and wasted on one bad decision?
I was amazed. No, wait. I was blown away, as if someone punched me in the stomach and lost all of my air.
I said, “You were like a hero to me.”
“Yeah? Well, I never asked to be anyone’s hero!”
And this was true.
No one asks to be a hero. No one asks to be regarded as some kind of guru. I certainly never want to be like this.
I am no guru or hero or anyone to be above or below. I am a real person, faults and secrets, sins, mistakes and all. Would it be popular of me to tell my faults and failures? Would it be popular of me to discuss my past of womanizing or manipulation? Would anyone look at me as better-than if they knew the whole story? I have made my share of mistakes too. I don’t hide this. I am simply another person at the bus stop or in the train station, just trying to make my way.
There are people who the television glorifies. There are people who the media glorifies and people who we deem as higher than. I cannot give into this. I cannot put anyone above me nor below me.
We’re all the same. We just have different talents.
We are all one poor decision away from a great downfall. And therefore, if this is true, then we are also one great decision away from an amazing victory. Idolizing or demonizing people do nothing but judge where someone else sits or stands. I can’t do this.
I used to argue. I used to take offense. I used to go back and forth about opinions. Who is right or wrong? I used to think success meant everything. However, successfulness is not a measure of personality. In fact, I have found people whose unsuccessfulness has promoted them to champions. This was so because of their refusal to stop, give in or consider the labels of winner or loser. There is no one above or below. If I place people in either position, then where do I place myself? Above or below, which is not something I have the right to do.
There is a line which goes, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”
I understand this line comes from a religious text. However, I have amended this text to fit me and my life.
No one would have power over me if it were not given to them by myself. This is even so with bosses and supervisors. Although an authority in some ways, come the close of our business day, no one has power over me unless I give this away.
This is why I do not idolize or put people on pedestals. I admire people. I learn from them. I adore them and I honor them as friends, teachers, mentors and elders.
However, the one thing I learned is we are all human. We are all capable of mistakes. We all have imperfections. Some are secretive. Others are open about themselves. And me, well, I can say it like this . . . .
When I first began my journey into the tattoo culture, I heard from people that had their judgments. They confronted me about my choices. I was told that I would be subject to judgment; that people in the professional world would see me differently. Then again, I was told this by someone who is plain-skinned.
I’ve met people who are tattooed more than myself, which, this is a considerable amount since my upper body is nearly covered. But at least I know who they are. What I mean is we can see them coming.
We can’t always say the same thing about the plain skinned.
I am not perfect. I am not anyone more special than you or the next. All I do is embrace life. I embrace the lessons of my friends. I try to put principles above personalities, which isn’t always easy.
All I know is that life is life. I’ve never walked in anyone else’s shoes nor saw anything through anyone else’s eyes. I have my process and you have yours. It’s okay if we don’t go about it the same way.
Let’s just hope we both make it through life safely. That’s all we can hope for.