In the flow of daily existence it is very easy to get pulled out of shape, and to forget who you really are. We probably all experience moments in which we lose sight of ourselves and become, if only momentarily, people that we no longer recognize.
Friends and family tend to be our main antidote to this - the safety and familiarity of their company normalizes us. Their expectations of our character, based on knowledge and experience, can be a positive force, re-uniting us with our true selves.
It is often hard to maintain the integrity of our personality – as psychologist Anthony Storr points out, ‘people often express the idea that they are most themselves when they are alone.’8 In going out into the world and interacting with others - those who don’t know our history, who we really are – we are bound to be pulled out of shape. Conflicts can cause us to act irrationally; certain situations may provoke lapses of character; peer-pressure and other forms of social conformity can limit us. There are many situations that remove us from ourselves, and its natural that we need ways in which we can counteract this.
We’ve seen how our heroes can be a reflection of the positive aspects of our own personalities, so it follows that in connecting with them we are also able to re-connect with who we are. This could be through something as simple as watching a particular film or TV programme, listening to a record or reading a book. In doing so we connect with the ideology of our heroes; we’re brought into their world, which is also a reflection of our own.
Cultural paraphernalia (such as books, DVDs, records and posters) can act as an assertion of our identity; it can be a relief to arrive home, to a place where you are surrounded by your own objects, because these objects remind you of who you are. In much the same way, to know who your heroes are, and to have them in mind, is to know yourself.