We’ve all seen them on TV or the news, extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. The label that usually follows these types of situations is “hero” or “heroine”. Rescuing people from burning buildings, pulling cars off of children, or saving Mr. Fluffy from the high perils of a tree. They are all things that would make anyone extraordinary. At some point or another, we have all most likely wanted to be a hero.
As a youngen, I watched far too many cartoons for my own good. My Saturday mornings consisted of watching TV from 8 a.m. until noon. You can imagine the pride that my Mom felt towards me. The one thing that always stuck out to me is that heroes and heroines conquered impossible odds. You can imagine how years of this would assist in programming me to want to be a hero. Now I am not quite up to saving the galaxy, but I like to think I have done some amazing things. From all of my adventures, I have assessed some common mistakes that we make in being heroes. On top of that, we ignore the little things that are continuously making us better heroes. So, without further adieu, I give the lists of what does not make us heroes, and what does.
1. Heroes are meant to save people
This was probably the hardest lesson for me to learn. I always thought that heroes were meant to help others make lives better. In a way, I think they do, but it’s important to remember there’s a difference between helping someone and doing the work for them. You may think that doing the work shows them so they know for the future. Unless they are actively a part of the process, they did not learn anything. It seems like the kindest thing to do, to fix someone’s problem for them. Chances are that problem is linked to a much bigger one. You may have ripped out the weed, but you neglected to pull out the root. The root can only be removed by the person who grew it.
You may think that you’re helping someone by tending to their garden. The reality is that you’re hindering them. Unless a person learns to tend their own garden (a garden being a reference for their life) they will never improve. Therefore, the desire to help becomes selfish and is not becoming of a hero. Fixing someone’s problems for them DOES NOT make you a hero.
2. Heroes help everybody
Another hard life lesson to learn. If you wake up in the morning and have a million texts from your friends, you may be guilty of this. It seems so selfless, right? I mean who else would give up all of their time except the truly heroic? You may be surprised to hear that this is also somewhat selfish. It puts you in a position where you are wanted almost constantly. Not only that, but it also give you a lot of attention (sweet!).
Some of you may be thinking, “this Ryan character is a jerk, how dare he say I’m selfish for helping people!” Take it from a guy who spent almost his entire adolescence trying to help everybody: you CANNOT help everyone. Think I’m wrong? Think back to the last time you complained about helping your friend. Was it last week, yesterday, or five minutes ago? The fact of the matter is helping too much puts a lot of strain on us, too. The instant you start complaining about those you help, assess why.
It might be time to take a step back. If you cannot even help yourself, there is no chance of you helping others. Take care of you, once you have your life together, then you can help others. Helping everyone DOES NOT make you a hero.
3. Heroes are always selfless
When they’re not slaying Godzilla, heroes still manage to give the coat off their back to someone, and they do it with a smile on their face. Right? Wrong! This plays off of #2, heroes need time for themselves. Some call this selfishness, I call it “me” time. Relationships should always be beneficial for both parties. If you are giving more in a relationship, assess whether it is temporary or not. Be honest. If it is not temporary, let it go. This does not mean ending it, only letting it go until both parties are willing to contribute something of equal value. You are valuable. You are like a pile of shimmering diamonds, if someone views you as a pile of rocks, it’s time to let go.
On to me time…it’s the best time! I am probably the most extroverted individual you will ever meet. “What are your parents like?” is usually one of my first questions. Invasive as that may be, you make a lot of friends, and uncomfortable acquaintances. The point being, I still need time to meditate, read, and recharge my batteries. We all do. Take care of your body, it’s the only one you have. Relationships give our life so much more meaning, make sure yours are worth having. Staying in hurtful relationships DOES NOT make you a hero.
THIS IS WHAT HEROES ARE MADE OF:
1. Heroes are authentic
The best thing that you can do for yourself and those around you is to find out who you are. This is not who your parents, friends, family, exes, or spouse say you should be. This is who you truly are. Think of your true self as a harp. Each time you do an action that is in line with who you are, a string is strummed. It’s a magical feeling. It feels like your entire body is reverberating with happiness. Each time you do something against who you are, it’s like a string snaps.
Which is why you get that “whip-lash” feeling when you do something that is not you. Overtime those strings will mend themselves, but why break them if you don’t have to. Take the time, learn what you like and what you want out of life. You will be that much more suited to save yourself, and the world. Keep in mind, saving means lending a hand, not giving an arm and leg. Being authentic DOES make you a hero.
2. Heroes give up
This one most likely threw you for a loop. What do you mean that heroes give up? Aren’t they supposed to be the ones who never give up? In cartoons and TV shows maybe, but we are playing the game of life. In order to get back into the game of life, we have to admit that we have done what we can, so we can move on. Giving up does not mean that you have lost. Sometimes it only means that you have given everything that you have. If you have given everything that you have, and then given a little more, it might be time to give up. If it is your dream, don’t give up, pursue it with a ruthless passion. If it is something that is only draining you, give up. It’s time to rethink giving up as a sign of weakness.
Acknowledge that what you’re doing isn’t working and then find something that does. You will not get a reward or parade for enduring great challenges. So, if you are, be sure that you actually want to be. Life is too short to be enduring suffering that has no place in your life. Either give it your all, give it a break, or give up. Knowing when to give up DOES make you a hero.
3. Heroes take action
This is by far my favorite characteristic of heroes. Almost anything cannot be accomplished without action. Look at your life right now, where are you taking action? Where could you afford to take more? Suffice it to say, nobody ever reached hero status by talking about being a hero. We often spend so much time complaining. Things aren’t the way we want, we don’t have the friends we would like, and our health is less than satisfactory. With all of the energy that we waste on complaints, we could light up earth brighter than the sun.
Imagine all of the things that you could do, if you stopped talking and started doing. But, life is hardddddd. Compared to what?. Know what’s even harder? Laying on your death bed knowing you didn’t give it everything that you have. Stop being the victim of your life. Your writing the story and it’s never too late to change the ending. Get your butt off the couch, grab that pen/pencil/sharpie/highlighter/crayon/paint bucket and start writing! Taking action, no matter how small, DOES make you a hero.