a blog by @captainsafia
Random thoughts on “heroes”
When I first started getting involved with tech, I had a lot of heroes. Most of them were completely unlike me. I looked up to characters like Bill Gates and Sergey Brin. In them, I saw something that I wanted to see for a long time: a bunch of nerds, who despite all the bullying and teasing and feelings of isolations, had “made it.” When I first learned about these men (and they were all men), I found solace in the fact that they were too smart and too odd and had yet been successful. That was the kind of stuff that thirteen-year-old me wanted to see. They were my heroes.
But even your heroes fuck up.
The more time passed, the more I learned about the mistakes they made, whether tolerable or intolerable.
I found new heroes, and sometimes, they too fell.
There is a certain comfort in having a hero. In taking someone’s larger than life persona and glorifying it to an extreme extent.
This happens a lot in tech, and it sometimes backfires.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say that I inspired them. I won’t be grandiose and claim that I was their hero, but it was evident that they held me in high regard.
Let me tell you; it feels really weird to be on the opposite side of the table.
Mostly, I feel like I don’t deserve it. I don’t find anything that I do on a day-to-day basis particular inspiring. I guess I might have accomplished a lot for someone my age (whatever that means) and taken bold risks that paid off and I think to some people that is admirable and inspirational and perhaps heroic.
Side note: that sentence was a total run-on and absolutely not heroic.
In any case, I’ve grown increasingly anxious over the past couple of months over the number of people who claim that I’ve inspired them or motivated them to do something and so on.
I know, I know. Who could possibly feel anxious about that? I’m glad that my actions have inspired or motivated people. But part of me can’t help but feel like I have to be the perfect “hero” to these people and never fuck up anything. It’s irrational and unrealistic, but I hold that belief anyway. I want to be a better hero to people who might look up to me than my heroes were to me.
It’s odd because who doesn’t want to be inspirational and motivational, right? But there is this whole other dimension that people don’t talk about often, that the responsibility of having people look up to you is paralyzing at times.
I probably chose to make the responsibility that important an aspect of my life, but I’m just that kind of person. I feel like I can’t mess up anything.
It’s also weird having people think that you’ve got the answers figured out to everything. Here’s a funny story. While I was in the midst of my job search, while I was spending most nights crying out of the fear that I would never find a way to make a living in tech, while I was in a state of sheer panic over the whole situation, I was getting emails from people who looked up to me about their own job searches. Heck, I hadn’t figured anything out on my own, but people were still seeking answers from me. That was such a weird experience for me. How do you answer a question that you don’t know the answer to when someone expects you to know the answer?
This blog post is long and rambly and probably doesn’t make sense in a few spots. But that’s the kind of content we are serving up on Safia’s blog!
I guess this post is mostly to say that my perception of what a hero is has been changed by watching my fall and by noticing that some people perceive me as their hero.
As all my blog posts come, this one comes with more questions than it does answers.
Thank you, Internet void, for absorbing my feels.