Every one of us has a hero: someone to look up to and emulate. We all strive to be like our heroes one day, accomplish what they accomplished, succeed like they did, and stand equal to them in history someday. But in our wildest dreams we never believe we could possibly surpass what they did. “Kill your heroes” by AWOL Nation is a great song that you should check out. "Kill," of course, is used in a metaphorical sense. It simply says to dare to be better than your heroes. Settle for nothing but your best effort and do not stop until you reach your goal.
I had two heroes once, both named Rachael. One was a captain of our cross country team, my freshmen year. She made everyone feel like they belonged and was an amazing leader. After she left, the team seemed to fall apart. And so when I began my senior cross country season, I swore I would be just like Rachael and bring the team together. Instead of leading second warm-up, I ran behind everyone to help the stragglers hang onto the pack. I wrote 50 different cards of appreciation for the team members at the seasonal banquet. These are just some of my favorite memories, but overall, I think I did a pretty good job as captain. And a few months ago, when Rachael came back to visit, I gave her a hug and told her she was my hero. That day, when I walked away, I realized that she was no longer my hero. I had achieved my goal of becoming like her, and then surpassed my expectations. I am not saying that I was a better captain than Rachael. No, instead, I am saying I did just as good of a job as she did. After a while, I no longer needed to look up to her, because I could look up to myself.
My second hero is someone who I’ve talked about before. She was the first victim of Columbine, and inspired me to write the anonymous sticky notes for my classmates. Someday, I hope to surpass what she did to change the world. And when I do, I will let you know!
Despite what you may think, it is not dishonoring your hero to strive to be better than them. Instead, I would look at it as a compliment if someone told me they wanted to be better than me at something one day. See, records are meant to be broken. The more times records are broken, the better we, as the human race, become. And when we all strive to be the best we can be, the possibilities are endless.
But once you surpass your hero, you’ll realize there are no more footprints to follow in; there will be no more compass to point you on your way. But when there are no more guidelines, there is no need to look back. You are strong enough, intelligent enough, and have been through enough to make your own guidelines now. No one can write your own story but yourself. Because, you are doing something that no one has ever done. This, for some, is a scary thought, and rightfully so. But take a deep breath and look around. You’ve come too far to quit now. For now, you are your own hero.