What’s amazing to me is that we’re all just people. As we grow through adolescence and into adulthood, the myths of childhood are debunked: our parents aren’t always right, teachers don’t know everything, the president is a politician, not a superhero, and we, ourselves, can potentially earn any or all of these labels. In many ways, that’s incredibly empowering. It takes the concept of individual purpose and expands on it; it gives each hand power.
Simultaneously, however, it is horrifying. I can’t pinpoint the moment or moments, but I know for certain that the revelation that no one could save me from the world- that there was no all-powerful human being and that all of the individuals I looked up to for security and wisdom had flaws, as well- petrified me at many times.
These thoughts floated into and out of my consciousness at a young age and the fear stayed, though in varying degrees, until fairly recently. Even still, at times, it scares me to think that I could have that much meaning, that my actions could potentially affect the world, through one person or many, or that any other individual who influences my life has similar levels of capability and weakness as I.
On recent reflection, I’ve become aware of how in my daily life I now spend a lot of time in awe of how the inspirations in my life are simply human. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to interview one of the most incredible, recovered beings I know on the differences between being in recovery and being recovered, for my journalism class this semester. Hearing about her journey, both the downfalls of her disorder and the strengths of her healing process, I have been left contemplating the real prospect that we are the same- not in our stories, but in our ability to change them.
Though the inspiration stands, it has changed and developed through this concept. The part of me that is inspired still feels attached to the ground. I’m no longer in a mystified state, but instead in one of motivation.
Paradoxically, for the same class last week, I read and wrote about the suicide of Aaron Swartz, the founder of Reddit and Internet icon infamous for hacking MIT’s academic database. Reviewing the life and death of an equally competent genius who similarly suffered with depression and mental illness, I was left with another road paved out for another human, simply a human, and reflected on the choices he made based on his own circumstances.
With the two focuses, I found no concrete difference in the chances laid out between the two. Both struggled with inner demons, both had to overcome the odds of recovery, in one way or another. The only true separations I found were the actions each took in response to their sensitivity and alarm with the circumstances they were given. Both were human. One chose to pass, another chose to rise. One gets to tell her story, the other has his written for him. One story continues, another is over.
In the wake of this reflection, I fill with hope, in place of the fear I know bubbles beneath the surface. It can be incredibly exciting to have equal opportunity, or one can choose to feel the weight of endless possibilities and required struggles in each fight. I am only human, but, then again, I’m freaking human. I look around. There are so many wonderful things I can become.
P.S. Here are some of the most awesome people I know and aspire to be like…