Hello Twenty-somethings and other peers on the journey, You are called to be hero and so am I.
This past weekend I had the honor and privilege of attending Oprah’s Live the Life You Want Tour, where Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the beloved book Eat, Pray, Love, was one of the speakers. Elizabeth spoke of the “hero’s journey,” a classic, archetypal story that we all know too well, regardless of gender, race, or age. Think of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, the story of Jesus Christ’s ultimate sacrifice to save humanity, Siddhartha, The Iliad and the Odyssey, and for more modern examples, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Shrek.
There are common elements to each of these stories, which I think will resonate well in all of us twenty-somethings:
- THE ORDINARY WORLD – The hero and the initial details of his/her life are introduced to the audience. The audience sympathizes with a situation or dilemma that the hero faces.
- THE CALL TO ADVENTURE – The hero is called on a quest or journey
- REFUSAL OF THE CALL – Initially, the hero will refuse the call out of fear.
- MEETING WITH THE MENTOR – The hero receives advice and guidance from a seasoned mentor or discovers some knowledge/wisdom to help on his/her journey.
- CROSSING THE THRESHOLD – The hero accepts the quest. Once he/she accepts, there is no turning back to the ordinary world.
- TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES - The hero is tested and sorts out allegiances in the new world. On this journey, the hero meets friends that look like enemies, enemies that look like friends, and wise old women who offer advice.
- THE ORDEAL/BATTLE – The hero confronts his/her greatest fear or faces death.
- THE REWARD – The hero takes the treasure won through the ordeal/battle. He/she may celebrate, but there is the danger of losing the treasure again.
- THE ROAD BACK AND THE RESURRECTION – The hero returns home bringing with him the treasure. At the climax, he/she is tested once again, but finally resolves the dilemma/conflict presented in beginning.
- RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR – The hero returns home or continues his/her journey, now bearing some element of the treasure and having the power to transform the world bearing the new power.
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Does this sound familiar to you? The hero’s story represents any attempt we make in transforming our lives, from losing weight to making a career change. Yet, how many of us refuse the call or give up in the middle of the story when the going gets tough?
For me, the hero’s journey is empowering. The choice is yours in the route you take, the tools and skills you choose in preparation, and the friends and allies you recruit on your journey. While we cannot predict the exact plot of our story amidst the pressures and uncertainties in our 20’s, it’s a reminder that beyond the trials and tribulations, are unimaginable rewards and treasures. Plus, once we have completed our quest, we get to return as heroes to inspire others to do the same. Pretty sweet, if you ask me!
So Twenty-somethings – have you heard any whispers calling you to start your quest? Have you ignored the call or have you answered it? What monsters are you out to battle or what treasures will be had? Will you finally answer the call to get into shape? To slay your student debt? To work on yourself and share yourself fully and deeply in a serious relationship? To start on that business idea or to make that career leap?
The quarter life is a scary, yet an exciting time to “figure it all out.” But remember, you are the valiant hero of your own story – Only you get to set the intention of how your story goes and what treasures you’ll find in the end.