In early December of last year, I participated in Challenge Day at a high school in Central Oregon. If you haven’t yet heard of Challenge Day, you can learn more about their amazing work with youth at: www.challengeday.org.
The day consists of various group activities that are mildly awkward at first then progress to some of the most emotionally raw and vulnerable depths I’ve experienced as an adult. The program offers profound lessons on breaking through social and emotional constructs to arrive at the place where compassion resides. This includes compassion for yourself, but also compassion for those you judge with the false assumption that you might know what they may or may not be thinking, feeling, intending, or experiencing. And although the challenges for each participant differ, the underlying theme and the tagline is, “Be the change.”
I left that high school completely lit up like the Christmas trees that would pop up around homes in America over the next few weeks if they weren’t up already. Actually I was mentally and emotionally exhausted after crying for almost 6 hours straight. But underneath the rubble of my hard shell, I was feeling jazzed about continuing on with this work.
As I was relaying all of this to a dear friend, the lovely M, I was emphatic about my desire to be a hero to people, many people, and this passion that had recently come bubbling up to the surface. I could envision becoming a therapist and the immense satisfaction of accompanying another person on the road to their most empowered and healthy self. Her next question, however, stopped me dead in my tracks.
“Why don’t you become your own hero first?” she lovingly implored.
Ah, excellent question. What was I looking for in a hero? Dynamic growth. Courage. Unbridled love. Unfaltering joy. Unabashed passion. I had an idea of what it looked like, but not the how.
How do you become your own hero first?
One step at a time. Sometimes two steps forward and three steps back, but you’re still moving, dancing a dance to which only you know the music and the steps.