Guess what happens when you start looking for heroes? Good sh*t happens. You wander into the good hood. You realise you’ve been surrounded by good humans all along. How many times can I fit good into one paragraph? I just can’t help myself. It’s really what comes to mind when I think of the project by the same name started by storyteller Alex Pawlowska. I have a very good feeling her story is going to resonate with many of you. Read on for a burst of good vibes. MC, editor
You said you started this project when you needed more positivity in your life. In what ways has Looking for Heroes changed things for you?
I started Looking for Heroes after a few years of applying for journalism internships in television. I studied journalism as a university degree and I knew that what I wanted to do was to write about people. I never got an internship, so I decided to use social media to fulfil my dream and stop waiting for someone to say yes to me.
At the time I was also struggling with depression. Looking for Heroes was my way of rebelling against negativity, and making a commitment to seeing hope and light. In a very big way, it was my own struggle that inspired me to start the project. Some of the biggest battles we all fight are within ourselves; the battles that no one else can see. In my most difficult moments I would look at the work I was doing and it gave me a reason to fight.
In what ways has Looking for Heroes changed things for me? It made me realise that I can never give up on myself or my dreams and that, with a big dose of resilience and persistence, dreams can come true.
When did you first fall in love with storytelling?
I’ve been writing stories since I was very young. I’m an introvert and writing is an important form of self-expression to me; it’s how I share my deepest feelings and experiences of life. When I was a teenager I kept a diary in which I wrote poems and stories. Today, writing is equally important to me and I write whenever I can.
In university, I wrote a paper on journalistic ethics. I understood early on the responsibility that comes with storytelling. I’m extremely grateful for the trust of the people that I interview, as I know that they’re sharing with me some of the most important and powerful things they have in life – their stories. I feel it’s my responsibility to be the guardian of these stories and to use them in a fair and empowering way.
From the very beginning, it felt like it was the right thing for me to do.
How does a typical day start and end?
I work a lot. I have a 9 to 5 and most of my free time is devoted to Looking for Heroes. I read a lot, but never enough. Self-help, self-development and business titles are my favourites. I’m in love with learning. I am constantly working on new things and even when I say to myself, “Alex you need to take a day off today”, I find myself editing videos later in the day. I just love doing what I do.
What’s the biggest impact you’ve seen Looking for Heroes make?
I save comments from people that are moved by the project. The dearest ones to me are:
“This post saved me today. Thank you.”
“I got some bad news in my life yesterday. Then I saw this and it gave me some much needed perspective, and some gratitude for the good in my life.”
You’ve interviewed a lot of innovative, inspiring people. What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learnt from them?
I’ve learnt that regardless of where we come from, what we believe in or how old we are, we are really not that different. It’s humanity that brings us all together.
I’ve learnt that every person has something to give and something to teach. And I’ve learned the importance of keeping our hearts and minds open to everyone we meet.
You’ve been featured in a number of prestigious magazines, and were nominated for the Shorty awards. Are you setting your sights ever higher, or do you move spontaneously without specific goals or expectations?
I’m incredibly grateful for all the support I’ve received since I started Looking for Heroes. I really can’t put it into words; it means the world to me. I still remember the day I found out I’d been nominated for the Shorty Awards. I can still remember my heart beating like crazy and me thinking: Is this really happening? It was one of the most unexpected moments of my life. I still have a Shorty Awards sticker hanging on my wall and every time I look at it, I’m reminded that the things I never even dreamt of were possible.
I’m a dreamer and I always dream big dreams, but the most important thing for me is to stay true to the vision I hold for Looking for Heroes – to inspire and empower in any form that I can.
Ultimately, running a passion project boils down to time, effort and dedication. How do you summon all of the aforementioned to keep the project active and growing?
Looking for Heroes is my passion and passions have incredible power. From the very beginning, it felt like it was the right thing for me to do, like I was finally using my gifts, my inner power. I cannot imagine dedicating so much time and energy to anything else. This project is everything that’s the best of me, everything that I have to give. And knowing that motivates me every day.
“Most of us live our whole lives without having an adventure to call our own. What is any life without the pursuit of a dream?” – Tilda Swinton. What words of wisdom would you give to people who have a dream, but haven’t yet taken steps toward realizing it?
I’ve learned to live by this simple truth: Don’t wait for the right moment, don’t wait until you’re ready. I wasn’t ready when I stopped the first stranger on the street and asked them for an interview. I was scared, but I did it anyway. I wasn’t ready when I started talking about suffering from depression; I still don’t feel ready. I am scared, but I’ve learned to not give in to fear and to push myself to be the person I want to be. Every single day.
The most important realisation I’ve had in my life, and this is something that I constantly remind myself of, is: I will not be here forever. I believe that we all have a responsibility to live our lives to the fullest and to follow our own paths. I very often ask myself: What would you do if this was the last day of your life? This helps me remember that I don’t have all the time in the world and motivates me to keep running towards my dreams.
Always follow your heart. It knows the right way to go.
Photographs of Alex by Kevin Berry
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