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When I was deciding which class to put Zarya in, I could have easily chosen Juggernaut or Warrior, she definitely fits both quite well, but I chose Paladin for one very big reason: Her heart.
Zarya is a hero in every sense of the word. Growing up through the Omnic Wars, she experienced extreme tragedy as her family, friends, and loved ones came under attack by the Omnic threat. Many would have sank into despair or desperation after such a horrible tragedy, but not Zarya. She allowed the attack to define her life, yes, but by using at as motivation to mold herself into a powerful force for good.
Though just a young girl at the time, Zarya was already showing herself to have the Heart of a Hero, the type of spirit that refused to be crushed by adversity. Rather than abandon her dreams to a life of darkness, she used the attack to stoke her inner fires, forging herself into the strongest, most capable woman she could become. This overarching goal was driven not by a desire for revenge, but a desire to protect those in need, and keep her village from harm if it ever found itself under threat again.
These traits, the desire to protect, to shield, and to aid, are the defining traits of a Paladin.
I actually had a little Snapchat (did you know I have a Snapchat?) discussion about adversity the other day. The thing about adversity is, no matter who you are, what your station is, or how much money you have, adversity never goes away. Now, that’s not to say that everyone faces the same level of adversity! However, if you find yourself facing adversity, and using it as a reason for why you can’t do the things you want to do, or become the person you want to become, then you’re never actually going to take those steps.
Zarya is a hero because when her moment was upon her, when she was supposed to step onto the competition stage and take her place as one of the strongest women in the world, adversity reared its ugly head. Her village had been attacked again. Without a moment’s hesitation to consider her career or her competition, Zarya grabbed a particle cannon and some armor, and flew to her village’s aid.
By accepting that adversity will always be there, that bad things can always rear up and strike, you can begin to approach your life differently. Zarya trained not for a career as a powerlifter, but for the ability to face whatever adversity may strike at her and her loved ones. When faced with a potential tragedy, rather than shrinking away and ignoring it, she grabbed the biggest gun she could, and rode out to meet it.
A hero is defined by their deeds in life, and how they treat others. You may have seen my video, The Billionaire Project. If you haven’t, you should go watch it now. I believe that we all have a hero inside of us, a Paladin who can do great good in this world, and I believe that we all have the potential and the duty to bring out our inner paladin. Imagine how amazing the world would be, if we all embraced our inner Zarya?
Now, it’s worth noting that overextending past your team in Overwatch is a bad idea. Overextending past your own capabilities and support system in real life is just as bad. Shielding teammates is fantastic, shielding that overzealous Genji who’s halfway across the map by himself trying to assassinate the entirety of the enemy team is probably not the best idea. By the same token, trying to help people so much that you end up hurting yourself isn’t very helpful to anyone.
Adversity is always present, yes, but you need to be mindful of how much adversity you are able to handle. Going too far beyond your limits isn’t healthy. It’s okay to ask for help from your teammates (the people around you in life.) It’s also okay to admit when you’ve hit that wall, and you’re not able to fight anymore. Sometimes even heroes need breaks.
In the end, however, being a hero really just comes down to the decisions you make every day. They don’t have to be big shows of bravado or charity, either! In fact, most of your decisions shouldn’t be that big!
- Next time you wish someone a nice day at a check-out counter, make eye contact, give them a genuine smile, and really mean it. If you’ve ever worked retail, you’ll know how much that can mean to someone.
- If you notice a coworker is having a hard time with a particular task, offer some help (even if you don’t like them very much.)
- Hold the door for someone!
- If you’re having a frustrating day, remember that everyone you see is fighting their own battles, there’s no need to push yours on them by being mean or rude.
- Help someone when they’ve dropped their things.
- Go the extra mile to be nice to someone who’s obviously having a bad day (even grabbing someone a soda without them asking for it can be a huge gesture.)
Being a hero doesn’t mean you actually need to go out and fight evil artificial intelligence monster. Being a hero, a paladin, comes down to small, everyday gestures of goodwill towards your fellow human beings. It’s just us, on this planet (at least until we invent the Omnics.) Zarya’s willing to lay down her life for her neighbors. Follow her example, at least a little bit, and do good for those around you.
Live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome.
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace