I recently had the opportunity to meet my favorite author, Alexander McCall Smith (See photo below). He was very kind, and he wished me good luck with my writing.
I had a very positive experience, but it made me wonder, What does it mean to meet our heroes?
What is surprising about meeting those whom we admire?
1) Fear of making a bad impression.
The desire to meet our heroes comes from our wanting to be closer to them. We enjoy seeing them on the screen or reading them on the page, and so we reason that meeting them in person will be like that only better.
What we might not realize is that they will also see us. With this realization comes the fear of making a bad impression.
When Troy sees LeVar he freezes, and his eyes grow wide. He can’t even manage to shake his hand. Troy later admits that he didn’t want to meet his hero in person, saying, “I just wanted a picture. You can’t disappoint a picture.”
In the movie, Julie & Julia, a young woman sets out to cook all of Julia Child’s recipes and to blog about them. In effect, she throws her whole life’s momentum towards ‘meeting’ Julia Child. At the end of the movie we learn that Julia Child actually dislikes the blog. Julie has made a very long lasting bad impression.
I remember being a little bit nervous as I stood in line at the book signing. I wanted to tell him how much I enjoyed his work, and I wanted to make a good impression.
2. Not everyone shares your choice of hero.
After my favorite author gave his talk, a line formed to get books signed. There were at least 30 minutes worth of people waiting ahead of me, and all I could think about was how excited I was to be there. I had taken an hour long train ride from across the bay, and I would have waited for hours if necessary.
As I stood there, wondering what I should say, I heard the woman behind me in line turn to her friend. She looked at the line and at the book in her hands, shaking her head.
“Do we really want to wait in this line?” she asked.
This surprised me and taught me that celebrity is relative; we don’t all share the same heroes.
3. Even though you’ve spent hundreds of hours with them (reading or watching TV). They won’t remember you.
It’s easy to forget that you don’t actually know the celebrity, and they don’t know you. After all, you’ve spent hours reading their words or watching them perform on TV. You may feel like you know them.
This creates a strange sensation, which I can only compare to the movie, Back to the Future.
In this movie, Marty McFly travels back in time to when his father was a kid. He meets the young version of his dad, George McFly, but his father doesn’t know him.
Just like Marty McFly, we have memories which we associate with our hero, and just like the young George McFly, the celebrity does not have any memory of us.
Have you met your hero? Did the experience surprise you in any way? Please let me know in the comments.