The unsung hero

The unsung hero

What’s this hero’s journey?

I love the story of the unsung hero.

One day I woke up in the middle of my life and I realized that if my life were a story in a book, it would read like a tragedy. I was not a hero overcoming all odds. I was a lost and confused character who didn't know who she was, or how the ending of her story would turn out. All she knew was that what she had going on was not what she’d imagined when she began venturing out on her own.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s felt this way. How many of us haven’t felt like a hero, but instead like a ‘zero.’ For whatever reason, we can’t seem to get our shit together. We’re not where we wanted to end up. Life isn’t going exactly according to plan. We feel we’ve failed in our mission.

When I was in that place, I had to figure out some challenges. How would I get myself out of this feeling, this pain of being out of sync with everything important to me: my career, my relationships, my view of myself, my dreams? How would I heal the pain of realizing I had failed myself? How could I feel whole and fulfilled?

The best thing about failure is that you always have another chance to try again. I decided to never again let myself down. I started over from scratch, left my marriage, patched up important relationships, ended others, and eventually got out of my dreary job. I did a lot of soul-searching work on myself.

Two wonderful things happened. First, I discovered life coaching. That led to a few years of coaching others who sought fulfilling careers. While it was very rewarding work emotionally and spiritually, it still wasn't quite the right fit for me. I struggled to make ends meet and was not having a great time figuring out the financial aspect of working in the field of coaching.

The second thing that happened was that I found (found again, really — but that’s a story for another day) the best man I could hope to have in my life and I married him. With his support and deep caring for my emotional and spiritual well-being, he encouraged me to find the thing that would light me up and keep me going in my professional life. Something that was rewarding financially and personally.

Looking back, I do realize now that I was on a Hero’s Journey. I had come to the threshold and looked down the long and winding path. I needed to take a leap of faith and trust that at the end of that road would lie my salvation. I trusted myself and moved out of that comfortable but painful life I’d been living for 40 years. I decided: “No more, I’m ready for something different.”

That corner turned, I am ready for a life that is nothing less than amazing. I'm done with the default, with an average life, with the pain of not feeding my soul with purposeful and rewarding work. I’m ready to pick up the work of the unsung hero and simply keep moving forward. After all, isn’t that all there is to do?

This story is far from over.

The thing is… each time we pick a new road, one we’ve never traveled before, we’re on that Hero’s Journey again. It’s a constant challenge with rewards at the end. As long as we realize that, we can avoid the tragic life.

Which is what we all want, I think. After all, a tragic life doesn’t provide much content for impactful eulogies or meaningful gravestone epitaphs.

My life could be broken down into four stages...

I have been wrestling with writing my memoir and this came to me the other day. What if I could break my life down into stages? Ones that represent exactly what was going on in my life before I made the big changes, and that led me to where I am now.

Here’s what I came up with:

  1. I dreamt of being someone special, while not really knowing myself.

  2. I tried being someone I'm not, while not feeling connected or honest.

  3. I cut myself loose from my former life in order to discover myself.

  4. I decided to be who I really am, while taking enormous steps of courage to be authentic and true to myself.

If you were to break your life story down into stages, what would you see?

cover photo by alexander milo on Unsplash
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