Why I Want to Be a Hero


The Fantasy of the Hero

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a hero.
I’ve loved myths, legends, science fiction, and comic books my whole life.

Sounds childish, right?
It’s easy to psychoanalyze a love of heroes, and dismiss it as a childish or neurotic desire to escape from reality.

  • Do I want to be a hero because I want everyone to love me?
  • Do I want to be a hero because I feel powerless in the face of unfathomable forces that surround me?
  • Am I trying to escape from a seemingly petty existence into a wonderous world?
  • Do I want to feel overwhelmingly special and unique, and being myself doesn’t seem to be good enough?

Sometimes I do want to escape. I want to escape from a world that disappoints me. I want to escape from a “me” that disappoints me. Why play a seemingly insignificant role in the everyday world, when being a hero in my own fantasy world sounds like a lot more fun?

On the Surface
That childish desire to escape lurks on the surface of our thoughts and feelings.

And there’s another troubling feeling that travels with that desire to escape.
Do you often experience a feeling of restlessness? Do you feel that there’s some other place you must go. Some other work you must do. Some other person you must be?

It’s easy to dismiss that restlessness as the same childish desire to escape reality and to cast off our responsibilities.

But there’s much more to each of us than what floats on the surface of our thoughts and feelings. There is a deeper, meaningful side to our desire to escape, to our feelings of restlessness, and to our desire to be a hero.

Heroes and Stories

There are no heroes without a story.
A story is about meaning. A story reveals the meaning that lies within ordinary or extraordinary moments in someone’s life.

The stories of heroes are usually about extraordinary moments. They are stories where the meaning is clear, powerful, and profound.

But what divides the ordinary from the extraordinary? Is the ordinary event simply the common and familiar one?

Or does the ordinary become the extraordinary when we find the meaning in it?

Joseph Campbell studied myths and stories of the hero’s journey from many cultures.
It was his life’s work. The journey of the hero that he charted has distinctive patterns and steps.

Lives of Meaning
Campbell looked at stories of heroes and extraordinary events, but the lessons are true for our seemingly ordinary lives.

The Hero’s Journey is the story of living a life of meaning.

Your heroic story begins as you slowly awaken to a challenge that life throws at you. Life calls you to wake up and take action. For a time, you resist that call, but eventually, sometimes grudgingly, you begin your journey.

You find mentors and guides along the way, and face obstacles.

You see success, and dark moments full of failure and self-doubt, and final victory.

And you take the lessons of your victories and bring them home to share them with others.

Each of us is here to live a life of meaning. We are not meant to walk blindly and mechanically through life with no challenges, no courage, and no triumphs.

Escape to Freedom

There are many desires or feelings that have a superficial aspect, and an inner, profound aspect. My desire to be a hero is one example. Sometimes it’s an escape, and sometimes it’s a desire for profound change, a desire to begin my journey to find my personal greatness and become the hero of my life.

Another two-sided feeling is the restlessness that haunts me.
Sometimes it calls upon me to escape and avoid something unpleasant or disappointing in my life. In this aspect, the restlessness represents weakness and passivity.

Other times, that restlessness calls upon me to question the superficial, mechanical, unthinking parts of my life, and search for a life of greater meaning. It’s the call of freedom, and it calls upon me to begin the journey of profound change. In this aspect, my restlessness is a source of strength and action.

Connections
There are many actions that we need to do to live and to grow. At times, each of us finds herself avoiding these actions. Many of us, particularly if we’ve been hurt or are full of fears, have several types of avoidance behaviors.

When you seem to be avoiding everything that needs doing, here’s a way to draw on the strong, inner power of heroes and restlessness.

Exercise – Restless Heroes:

  1. Become aware of the feeling that calls upon you to escape doing some everyday (or important) task.
  2. Connect with the strong, deeper version of that feeling that calls upon you to escape the superficial side of your present life and find a life of deep meaning. Feel that deep ache to become the hero of your life. Feel the restlessness that tells you that your life isn’t quite right, and you are the one to stand up and make your life extraordinary.
  3. For an everyday task, remind yourself (if it’s true, as I hope it is) that the mundane task is a necessary part of everyday life. It may not be exciting, but you need to do it. (If the task really is avoidable, find a way to restructure your life so you don’t do it!) Imagine your task is one of the stones of the path that leads to your freedom and greatness. Feel your restlessness and desire to be a hero moving along that path, supported by the stones.
  4. For an important task (which often has more fear and resistance associated with it), see this task as a bridge on your path to greatness. Feel your restlessness and desire to be a hero moving along the path, and passing over the bridge.
  5. When you reframe your actions as key steps along a life of meaning, you bring them into the Hero’s Journey, and you discover new energy within yourself to get things done. You substitute a feeling that makes you weak and passive, with one that makes you strong and active.

27 comments to Why I Want to Be a Hero

  • Hi Joel…

    Excellent post!

    I am a huge fan of Joseph Campbell.

    His writing changed my life…

    Thank you for reminding me of the Hero’s journey!

    Blessings and joy,

    Jen

  • Great motivating words:
    …..Connect with the strong, deeper version of that feeling that calls upon you to escape the superficial side of your present life and find a life of deep meaning….
    A good post.My best wishes.

  • Hi Joel,

    Wonderful words of wisdom.

    Isn’t in interesting how we are all on the hero’s journey?

    I am so fascinated with the work of Joseph Campbell, and his writings on the heroes journey.

    Thank you for sharing this. Your writing is always so warm, i feel like I am talking with a wise old friend.

    -Jonathan

  • Great post!
    I love that line “bridge to a path of greatness” that is a much more empowering thought than one of resistance!
    I enjoyed spending some time here on your blog today! Great writing!

  • Thank you for the exercise Joel. What a great reminder that so many of the stones in our shoes could be removed and placed on the road… that so many burdens could simply be removed.

  • Thought provoking story. I am not familiar with Joseph Cambell, but it seems that his work is worthy of further study.

  • stephen

    hi its good to know that other people feel the same as me. i like where u mention that deep ache to become a hero i feel that all the time and don’t know what to do with it but you have helped. thankyou.

  • Roger

    I just wanted to say that much of my own life I’ve felt the same way. People looked as me like I was crazy when I told them, which has driven me not to say anything. Like Stephen said above me, I’m glad to know that I’m not alone.

  • mrinal singha

    realy i want .dont know why.?but i think i will be hero .and i am not a normal like everybody.i like to help people like a hero.want to do everything like super hero.want to be a extraordinary man.dont know why ?

  • Jessica

    Thank you for writing this. For most of my life I have always had this desire to protect and help people out. I always hated feeling helpless, and I didn’t want others to suffer in that way either. I used to think I never had a ‘calling’ in my life, but maybe, in a way I want to be a hero too. It’s all just a matter of making this passion of mine more of a part of my reality, instead of just a fantasy.

    Everyday, I find myself becoming more of the me I want to be, little by little. So it is possible if you want something enough you can create that change in and for yourself.

  • someone

    i want to be a hero because i want to be remembered as “lengendary”

  • Darren

    I just want to unleash that feeling of the hero inside me and just let my imagination run wild. I should be myself and let people know how I feel, glad we are not alone on our feelings right?

  • Luke

    I want to be a Hero to make all that i can fair.
    since the definition of fair changes from person to person I want to make things so that everyone can do what they want. where rules we can agree too can be upheld anf where happiness presides over everything else.

  • May be for being a hero i will die but i always speak to my self that i will do it because i know in my heart that is the right thing and i am happy to help people that in constant danger i am not afraid to stand up and fight,someone saying that i am crazy but i know that is the most brilliant thing that i will do in the rest in my life i love the works and passion of a hero and everyday i fell to my self that i am a super hero i reflect my self to them no matter what it takes i will be a hero,

  • Taylor

    U are a great motivater. I have always wanted to be a hero just to help those suffering. I want it all to stop. When you wake up you hear on the news someone is starving, or was raped, beaten to death or held captive for years, and many other terrible things. I want to be one when I grow up. I mean one with a costume and everything. Even if I help I help one person that’ll mean something to me.

  • Sam

    I am so very glad I found this. Like all of you I’ve felt the same way- that I was born meant to be a hero, that somehow I’m still waiting for a calling or a mentor figure to appear and tell me what my purpose is.

    I appreciate that this post doesn’t tell us to ignore that feeling or cast it off as juvenile and anti-productive. I too beleive that our fantasy’s are our best reference to finding our ideal realities.

    Thank you so much.

  • James

    Hola… buén post.

    Solamente quisiera saber si lo mundano es bueno, sabes, yo pienso que en verdad puedo hacer la diferencia en el mundo y ser un cambio positivo en este…

  • MercuryMax

    I can relate to the beginning of this, I understood it, however I can’t seem to grasp how this is supposed to help me control these feelings. I still have this great urge to be a hero.

  • like you all i felt the same way i’ve always wanted to be a hero to help those suffering from the cruelty of the other people i hope i’ll become a man that can help those suffering no matter what it takes i ‘ll gonna be a hero

  • Human

    I always found it easy to resist temptation and giving in to “evil” in no matter what situation I was. I didn’t live in my own reality, I lived in actuality where I wanted to see change. The change could be brought quite easily, but people simply refused to change. I always wanted to be that change and to this day I am willing to die for that change. I want to sacrifice myself for the greater good. It is my destiny, it is why I was born.

  • Vincent

    Many are called but few are choosen.heros are born to creat an impart that will cause an change to the world. The were born to serve humanity. I pray to be a great hero to the whole world. God use me. Vincent / vindehero

  • ehsan

    well im not really good in english.so…
    i wish i could explane my felling.im scared to talk about this with somebody because i allready know they wont understand me so i should keep my feelings inside of my heart every day.but at the end i know that i believe this.i want this so much.maybe you feel im crazy like every one else. but i will never give up. to be honest i hate reality. i wish i was a superhero i mean iam or i will……..iam still wating for call from some where.some one.or…..so if you reading this my friend remember this:believe your dreams and dont give up because in this world everythig can happend……i believe you joseph

  • Isaac

    I have found this post very motivating..
    Like most of you, I too have this feeling..
    Since I have watched Avatar The Last Airbender I have desired to be a hero, I want to be a powerful man, that helps people, I want everyone to remember me as a legendary hero.. I don’t want to have an ordinary life I want to escape reality. I wish there was some way.

  • Kayla

    Its not that I want to be a hero because they get all the attention. I don’t care about a title, And I know I can help people the way I am now… But not the right people.
    Every day I cry over something I can’t control, some sort of injustice that was done…
    Its as if I feel the pain of thousands of people I have never met, and it literally drives me over the edge at times… I have attampted suicide 4 times. My feeling is so far past escaping now…
    I want the power to stop the pain, the power to help people I cant even see.
    I want to be my own hero, so I can stop feeling like I am going insane while waiting for some superman.
    At least I’m not alone. Thanks for what you wrote, and thanks to the commentors for speaking as well. I just needed to tell someone before I explode and leave everyone else behind to suffer as well.

  • L

    In a long stream of searching, I found this post. I read it, and I read many others you’ve shared here.

    I want to thank you for making me not feel so alone. I feel a stubborn, ceaseless desire to do and make and be more, for life and humanity, for a creative aesthetic. It’s never one cause, or for one person. It’s especially hard for me to find something that appeals to me as a nonreligious person. I struggle to find purpose in my life, and can’t fathom that it could be something– related to money, or pleasing other people. None of these seem as important as doing good, or creating something beautiful and functional.

    Hearing someone address the things that I think are important and undervalued is a kind of comfort I need right now, and I expect there are others who need to hear it, too. It’s just critical sometimes that, unbidden, we witness someone else expressing and echoing our own thoughts and sentiments, not necessarily to validate them, but to prove that they are not so unique so as to make us we are alone in what we feel.

  • L

    (…not so unique so as to make us believe we are alone in what we feel.)

  • L

    Please note that there are many types of heroes. A hero isn’t necessarily someone who saves lives, but there are such things as heroes who represent and champion values and ideas. Heroes may be sung or unsung, but it does not always matter what is said about them, so much as the impact they create by their determination, their existence, and their deeds.

    Heroes represent proof of opportunities that can be seized and forged through deeds into stories that have meaning. They inspire us to want better from ourselves. Perhaps they remind us that we could try harder, or be more giving, or that our perspective is too narrow for the people we would like to become– but their existence itself is evidence for our own ability to achieve our goals, whatever they are, provided we push ourselves when given opportunity.

    This is how I think of these things; that if someone in decent health with no particular talent toward something can do it through determination and opportunity, it is something I also could achieve through similar means. If another person is able to keep their temper, or to give of their time to a cause, if these are things I truly want, all other things being relatively equal, I can do these things, too, and I hold no excuses for not doing them, but that I value something else more– which is not necessarily bad.

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