Every story has a hero. An intrepid reporter out to uncover a scandal and being thwarted by her own government. A princess with superpowers fighting bad guys. Maybe she’s a working mom trying to juggle a career and a home. The story is about her.
And like any good story, she faces many obstacles along her path of heroism. We follow as she struggles to get answers from a few crooked politicians, and when that fails, she finds a sympathetic ear in a kindly old statesman who can’t get involved openly, but can point her in the right direction. He puts himself on the line to help her, and she’s in. She’s running herself ragged, chasing red herrings and Macguffins like a good hero should, fleeing secret agents and the enemy spy who wants to use her to get to the dirt himself. Her editor thinks she’s barking mad and up the wrong tree to boot, and why doesn’t she just take the upbeat story about the nine-year-old math wiz like he told her, nobody wants bad news anymore? But she doesn’t, she’s on to something, just give her forty-eight hours, boss. The clock is ticking and she finally thinks she’s uncovered the secret, but the enemy spy sets off a bomb right when she’s walking up to the last door, and it’s chaos. She just manages to escape the building, there’s agents everywhere, and she has to limp home and recuperate. At the office the next morning, she finds out that the bad guys got to her boss, they’re blaming everything on her and just like that, she’s fired. And now she’s facing prison for a crime she didn’t commit.
No story. No support. Nowhere to turn. Her nadir. What does she do?
She’s come too far, fought too hard, bled and cried and struggled, she’s not about to give up now. They think they got her beat, but they’ve underestimated our hero. Gravely. She risks everything, slipping into the high security building with bullets whizzing past her head, using every ounce of cunning and strength she has, she fights her way to the last door. And when she turns the key, the floodgates open! The truths come spilling out, so much more than even she knew, and the whole house of cards comes tumbling down. It’s the story of the century, and the one thing the bad guys got right is that yes, it’s all because of her. (Oh, and the enemy spy is actually a super hot dude with a sexy French accent, and he’s been secretly helping her all along… squee!)
The truth of heroism, of courage, is perseverance.
It’s facing fear and hardship and even danger, but continuing to struggle. Past the point of endurance. Past the point where everybody is telling you it’s a fool’s errand. Past the point of no return and into the terrifying unknown. It’s the crux of every hero, that thing which makes us admire them and desire them and keep turning those pages and wolfing down popcorn because we have to know how it ends. The hero doesn’t know it, but we’re on the edge of our seats, rooting for them. In every story in every book on every continent in every culture the world over for the entire history of human storytelling, we all love a hero.
That hero is you.
You are the hero of your story. There are people helping you, there are people working against you. Some will tell you all the things you’re doing wrong, others will tell you that you can do no wrong. Neither matters. All that matters is that you persevere. No matter your successes, no matter your failures, no matter who supports you or doesn’t, no matter the obstacles in your way. The story is your life, your dreams are the stakes, and the best part about it is that you are both the hero and the author. You write the ending, you live it.
When you’re at your nadir, when everything is crashing around you and everything is ruined, when bullets are flying at you from every direction and there’s no hope in sight, your only path is forward. The same as it’s always been. Let them underestimate you. Let them tell you that you’ll never make it. Fall down and cry, rage and stomp and pour your heart out, if you must.
Then get the fuck back up on your feet and be a fucking hero. The clock is ticking. Carpe diem.