One of my favorite Rush songs, Nobody’s Hero, laments the fact that people who overcome traumatic experiences, discrimination, and other evils are not considered heroes because they are not doing larger-than-life things.
Check out the song below if you haven’t heard it before! It’s worth listening to.
Anyway, I have another take on it. I believe that most people, whether they recognize it or not, are ordinary heroes.
What Is an Ordinary Hero?
Simply put, an ordinary hero is a person who struggles heroically to overcome the odds and live a fulfilling, authentic life.
This sounds so much simpler than it is.
Everyone wants to be authentic, and yet…
- Sometimes other people try to convince you that you’re someone else or pressure you to match their vision of you. The people who do this to you aren’t necessarily mean, either. Often the most well-intentioned people push you in wrong directions because they love you and think they’re doing what’s best for you.
- Sometimes people get uncomfortable around the real you. When you’re living an authentic, fulfilling life, sometimes it makes other people realize that they’re falling short of their own dreams. Some people might feel jealous or angry when they see you living in a way that they hunger to live in too but don’t think is possible for them. They might start fights, distance themselves from you, or even try to sabotage your happiness if they don’t know what to do with these feelings.
- Sometimes being authentic can have serious consequences. I wish we lived in a world where people were accepting of everyone else’s thoughts, feelings, and identities, but unfortunately we don’t. For some people, it can be dangerous to be who they really are. If you are gay or transgender, you could be risking being disowned by your family or violence from others if you are open about it. This isn’t true for everyone, but it is true for some people, and it’s important to consider these possibilities before deciding how to be authentic and who to share your real self with.
For all these reasons, it takes courage and strength to be who you really are — whatever that means to you.Being yourself shouldn't have to require heroism, but sometimes it does. Give yourself credit for that. Click To Tweet
The Ordinary Hero's Journey
If you’ve ever watched movies like Harry Potter (or read the books!), you know that every hero goes through a similar journey.
A writer named Joseph Campbell listed 12 stages of the hero’s journey, and most fictional heroes follow that pattern. Basically, the hero has to leave behind the world they know, embark on a quest, and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to their goal before succeeding and returning home changed in some fundamental way.
It’s not much different for ordinary heroes except for that they’re dealing with real life.
For some people, the world they know is the world their parents raised them to believe in. You might or might not live at home anymore, but either way you’ve been influenced by your parents’ beliefs and value systems, and it can be hard to break free of those.
If that sounds like you, your adventure is one of self-discovery, of figuring out who you are and what you believe.
Other people might be trying to overcome significant pain, anger, or guilt related to their pasts, and still others might be trying to rebuild their lives after something went terribly wrong.
Whatever the case may be, you’re probably dealing with difficult challenges and painful feelings as you attempt to create the life you want to live.
Why Talk About Ordinary Heroes?
I like to talk in terms of ordinary heroes because it’s so easy to get caught up in whatever you’re struggling with and forget how amazing it is that you’re working through it.
Sometimes people don’t like to think in these terms. It can feel demeaning to be called brave or heroic if you’re just trying to live your life the best you can and not trying to do anything special.
But the truth is, choosing to pursue authenticity is heroic, and I think deep down we all want to be heroes in our own lives.
Whether you call it that or something else, I think you deserve to be proud of yourself for how far you’ve come and for what you’re trying to accomplish.
What do you think? Are you an ordinary hero? Do you want to be one?
Hit the comments below with your thoughts!
About Jack A. Ori
Jack A. Ori is a life coach and author who empowers young adults through stories to live life on their own terms. He coaches young adults via one-on-one video chats, giving them the space to explore, embrace, and express who they really are. He is also the author of Reinventing Hannah, a novel about a 16-year-old girl who struggles to reinvent herself positively after she is sexually assaulted.
Join the discussion One Comment
Jack, this is a wonderful post about how one doesn’t have to be a “war hero” who saves his unit, a fireman entering burning buildings to save lives, or a police officer putting his life on the line to protect the public in order to be a hero. There are hundreds of thousands of quietly heroic struggles that take place every day. Great post.