Stupid Hero’s Journey

Hero's Journey persevere under pressure

You’re a Hero

When I was growing up, I was always drawn to stories that embodied what I later learned was called “The Hero’s Journey”.  Luke Skywalker, Hercules, Superman… these were my heroes.  No big surprise here.  I imagine a lot of people are drawn to these types of archetypes.

I used to wish I could be that kind of hero.  I identified with the lonely childhood, the feelings of inadequacy, and the struggle of not knowing who you are or how you fit in.  I admired how they overcame their challenges and became stronger and better for them.  Over the years I continued to add to my list of favorite heroes with people like Harry Potter, Eragon, Frodo, and Emmet from the Lego Movie.  I even wrote an outline to a book I wanted to write about a female hero.  I may still do that one day.

But, all in all, I was perfectly comfortable not being a hero myself.  After all, there is nothing particularly heroic or interesting about myself or my choices in life.  I’m just an ordinary gal, trying to be happy.

But I think the Lord has other plans for me.  I’ve mentioned before how I’m a born entrepreneur.  I still suck at it, but I’m getting better and I’m confident I will make my mark on the world one of these days.  The classes I’m taking have proven to me (and sometimes said outright) that the journey through the life of an entrepreneur is the same as that of a hero.  Realizing that I actually could be that hero I’ve always wanted to be was pretty exciting.  I was really stupid about one thing.  Somehow I thought I could be that hero, without taking the painful journey.

Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey looks something like this (along with my personal interpretation)

  1. ORDINARY WORLD (life as we know it… reality)
  2. CALL TO ADVENTURE (that inner drive… something that speaks to you.  The discovery of your life’s mission)
  3. REFUSAL OF THE CALL (I can’t do that!  I have responsibilities.  Besides, I’m nothing special)
  4. MEETING WITH THE MENTOR (The person who tells you to man up and do what you know is right)
  5. CROSSING THE THRESHOLD (Making the decision to close your eyes and leap)
  6. TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES (Growth, trials, setbacks, people who try and convince you you’re stupid and should give up)
  7. APPROACH TO THE INMOST CAVE. (That moment when you realize just how hard the road ahead is going to be, this is where most people give up)
  8. ORDEAL (a whole lot of suck, this is where even more people give up)
  9. SEIZING THE SWORD, REWARD (Boom! Victory!)
  10. THE ROAD BACK (discovery of the new normal.  Life is different now)
  11. RESURRECTION (Inner peace.  You’ve fought the good fight)
  12. RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR (spend the rest of your life sharing your wisdom, giving back, being the mentor)

Right now I find myself somewhere in between step 6, 7, or 8.  And let me tell ya, it sucks.  And that’s why I call it a “stupid hero’s journey”.  Because it’s about this time where part of me says, “I’m not sure this is worth it.  Is there no other way?”

But I have that sweet assurance from the Lord that everything will turn out ok.  The ending might not look like I planned, but it will be ok.  Better than ok, actually.

Under Pressure

President Faust said:

Success is usually earned by persevering and not becoming discouraged when we encounter challenges…Perseverance is demonstrated by those who keep going when the going gets tough, who don’t give up even when others say, “It can’t be done.

Winston Churchill said it a little differently.

…Never give in, never give in, never, never, never-in.  Nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

It’s hard to keep going when the journey seems impossible.  In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the term oss (comparable to marine’s saying “ooh-rah”) means “persevere under pressure”.  Maybe that’s why I like BJJ so much.  Because, in addition to burning calories, gaining strength, and preparing me for self-defense, it is good for my confidence and character.

You wouldn’t think that grappling with stronger, more athletic, more skilled, and often substantially heavier opponents (some of these guys outweigh me by 50 or so pounds), and losing every single time, would build my confidence, but it has.  Yesterday I was having a rough day.  The uncertainty of my future and feelings of inadequacy were overpowering.  But when 6pm rolled around, I walked into my gym, and mentally prepared myself to walk out with a handful of fresh bruises.  Almost immediately following the warmup, my insecurity melted away.  And my uncertainty fall to the floor along with the beads of sweat.

Having things that help me feel strong and confident, though seemingly unrelated to my business and home life, are actually essential for this journey I find myself on.  And with the Lord’s help.  Eventually I’ll get through it and I will look back and be grateful.

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