Part of the process of growing up and finding one’s identity is the phenomenon of hero worship. This is a transitional stage in the search for one’s identity It is some kind of attempt to draw a rough outline from an amorphous jumble of personality traits.. Before becoming your true original , unique self you try to fit into a mould you appreciate. This is your hero or heroine. You identify yourself with external traits of your hero, try to imitate the hero in those and become a double of your hero. Later you will crack the mould and emerge in your own individual right..
The most popular heroes among teenagers are film stars, fashion models, sports stars, politicians, world leaders, celebrities. In short, mostly the glamorous and the popular. For the more serious minded and mature heroes will be also chosen from the world of scientists, writers, saints, social reformers, poets, artists, medical men etc.
Young people spontaneously copy the dress, appearance and manners of their heroes. These can become an obsession with some. I remember a boy in high school who would not follow the school’s rules on haircut. In the school he studied it was mandatory that he should get a regulation haircut before the exams. During the haircut inspection he was found with long hair and sent for a haircut. But he dodged the teachers and was hauled up before the principal on examination day for having long hair. He preferred to miss the exams than have his hair trimmed. In a boarding school which had a visiting barber the boys called him “tiger”. He was authorized to enter their study hall on Sundays and call boys for haircut. As he appeared at the door boys would quietly whisper to each other,”mind you, man tiger is coming”. The barber complained to the school authorities that boys had no respect for him and they were calling nicknames.
This hero worship of adolescence has some benefits provided it is not overdone. It is like the colourful baby clothes you grow out of eventually. It gives the fans some self-confidence by identification with someone larger than themselves, gives them an opportunity to come together for concerted action. Fan clubs do undertake some social activities now and then. Later on they will give up blind imitation of their heroes and become their own unique selves because we are not made clones of any individual by God but distinct individuals.
For personal reflection
1. What do I like in my hero?
2. What good qualities should a hero have?
3. At what age should we outgrow hero worship?