Hold on to Your Heroes

Yesterday morning, I checked my phone only to realize that I had about 15 messages waiting for response. One of those messages came from my mom, who wrote, “You’re going to be really sad when you watch the news today.” Other messages were from my friends checking up on me,with their messages based on this news I had not heard yet. After scrolling through the notifications, I saw the shocker: Alan Rickman had passed away.

This may seem odd for someone like me to receive condolences on the death of an actor, seeing as how I never knew Mr. Rickman personally. But Mr. Rickman meant a great deal to me, in fact. He was one of my heroes.

Alan Rickman, as my friends and family know so well, is my favorite actor. Just as David Bowie was one of my favorite musicians–who tragically lost his own battle with cancer on Sunday–I held such a high regard for the Harry Potter actor. To me, the news of Mr. Rickman’s death was a huge blow. I feel like all of my heroes are dying.

I had a similar reaction to Robin Williams’s death. He was one of the greats. I mourned for Mr. Williams for weeks, and yet I never knew him personally. How can someone have such feelings for people with whom they never knew personally?

There are a choice few people I admire; mostly, these people are those who have impacted my life in some way. There’s family, old teachers, fictional characters, and public figures. But they all mean a great deal to me. Alan Rickman, for example, was a person who had captured my attention from the time I was young. I can’t remember when my obsession with him began, but it proved to be a lasting one. His voice, his acting style, and the roles he played mesmerized my imagination. The way he portrayed villainous foes truly wowed me the most, however. For some reason, I am drawn to villains. Don’t ask me why, I’m not sure myself. But, I love a good villain. I mean, who doesn’t? Mr. Rickman was one of those good villains. Time and again, I was in awe of his craft, his passion, and his commitment to the part. I was also captivated by who he was in life. Often described as charming and kind, he seemed like one of those actors who truly respected his fans. Yesterday, as I was scrolling through Twitter, I came across a BuzzFeed post, detailing stories of fans meeting Mr. Rickman. I cried, thinking of how the world lost such an amazing person.

I hate saying how I truly feel to my heroes. I feel awkward doing so. But, I make an effort to share my thoughts when I get the opportunity. Several years ago, in 2009, I decided to share my appreciation with Mr. Rickman. I took a week to write a letter to send. A few months later, I received a reply from his people, thanking me for sending the letter. Unfortunately, he was too busy at the time to respond, but his secretary noted that he would be happy to hear that I admired his work. Somewhere, I still have that letter. I was crushed that he never responded himself, but I hope that my sentiments were sent along in some way. I imagine they were given to him in a phone call or email from his secretary, who told him that he received some letters which told of his fans’ appreciation. The statement would be brief, but at least he would receive the message.

When I think of being a nerd, I think of passion. Being a nerd, in turn, is something positive. Unlike politics, nerds can agree that the one thing that brings them together is a shared love of a show, a person, or a movie. Through this shared love, heroes are born. These heroes are the people who unconsciously aid their fans by just being themselves. There’s no other way to describe it, but having a person of some famous status just living their own life, and creating their own art, is a feat to be worshipped. A lot of us out there have had some difficulty in finding the same confidence within ourselves. These people that we consider our heroes, though, become an example of what might happen if we trust our own unique faculties. People like Robin Williams, David Bowie, and Alan Rickman are some of those heroes that helped me realize that being myself is okay.

Now that they’re gone, we have to carry on that legacy. Our idols cannot be replaced. We can still hold on to our heroes, carry their ideals, and transfer them onto others. We can share their talent, their humor, and their kindness. Heroes never die; they can live on through us. And while I will still mourn the loss of my all-time favorite actor, what he meant to me transcends the sadness. Mr. Rickman will always be a hero to me.

Life was meant to be lived nerdily, so what are you waiting for? 

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