Friday, October 2, 2009

My Hero, Myself

I recently came upon a quote that went like this:

'We all live in suspense from day to day, from hour to hour, in other words, we are the hero of our own story.'
(Mary McCarthy; 1912-1989.)

This smacked me in the face, like nothing else I've read for a long long time. It was the last part that got me; 'We are the hero of our own story.' Wow.
And the more I thought about it, the harder it hit. Hero. Our own story. Suspense.

See, this is the thing. I have spent the better part of my entire adult life making everyone else the hero of my story. I was brought up in the Catholic faith, and I took it very seriously; You live for others. In order to find yourself, you lose yourself.

Through most of my youth, I prayed, nightly, this little prayer.

Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self forgetful way
that even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for others.
Others, Lord yes, others.
Let this my motto be
Help me to live for others, Lord
that I may live for thee.

That sounds all well and good on the surface (aww, how very sweet!), but shouldn't I have also been taught to pray for myself?

My original plan when I entered college was to be a social worker. And in some psychology class or another I learned about Maslow's hierarchy of needs:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

1 Self Actualization Needs
(full potential)

2 Esteem Needs
(self respect, personal worth, autonomy)

3 Love and Belongingness Needs
(love, friendship, comradeship)

4 Safety Needs
(security; protection from harm)

5 Physiological Needs
(food, sleep, stimulation, activity)

This simply fascinated me. And I set off on a life long purpose of trying to achieve the highest level; that of self actualization.

Maslow defines self actualization as " an ongoing process involved in a cause outside their own skin." And as I later learned, it's nary impossible to fully achieve. In fact, I took a class on Maslow right before I moved from Virginia, where it was stated that only the saints fully achieve this status. Well, I'm a good person, but I ain't no saint. This should have set me back in my quest but all it did was make me more determined.

So, now that I am getting older, I look back on my life and am stunned to realize that my quest was self defeating. and I look around, somewhat shell shocked, to see that I have cemented myself into a role I do not like very much, that of The Constant Giver. But rarely am I replenished. And this is about to change.

I am going to put myself back into the starring role of hero of my own story. I shall pray/give/care/love/respect others as fully as I can, but I am going to include myelf in the list. From this point forward, I will be the hero of my own story.


hero definition
hero (hir′ō, hē′rō′)

noun pl. heroes -·roes

Legend a man of great strength and courage, favored by the gods and in part descended from them, often regarded as a half-god and worshiped after his death
any person, esp. a man, admired for courage, nobility, or exploits, esp. in war
any person, esp. a man, admired for qualities or achievements and regarded as an ideal or model
the central figure in any important event or period, honored for outstanding qualities.


  1. Beej, I lost the love of my life a few years back and it floored me. It happened at the same time as I lost the job of my life. Double whammy. No, I'm not craving sympathy here - read on . What happened was a friend extended a hand just when it was most needed even though things were pretty bad in his life at that time as well. It helped me get back on my feet and made me reassess my life. I'd in effect lost every dream I ever had. But when I pondered it I begun to realise that maybe they actually weren't the dreams that I wanted to have anymore. I had spent all my life working hard in the corporate environment and focusing on what and who I thought I wanted in my life but I came more and more to the conclusion that none of that is actually worth anything if you are not content and that that sort of contentment only comes from within not from the presence of things around you. I decided to change my life, to rewrite songs that shape my life. I've not done it overnight, but when I look back now it has been a gradual reshaping of my values, and my life. It is still happening. But I am more happy in myself now than I ever have been before. I am doing what I want to do because I want to do it, not because it is what someone else wants. It was in many ways an epiphany. And I think you just had one as well. I recently came across which I think can be adapted to what I see myself and many others going through in their lives. Clearly the age bands may be out but I suspect the principles hold and that transitioning from one state of life to the next is something that many folk go through and one of them is a move that whilst it appears to be selfish is in fact not at all. Does this ramble make any sense to anyone else reading it? Well anyway what I want to say is I absolutely understand where you are and what you are saying, so go on girl be a hero! Love life, Live life.

  2. Sheila, thank you, thank you. Big change in ones life is not an easy thing but neither is stagnating in total, devastating, discontent. Your post made me cry, for you, for me, for blessed epiphanies.

  3. Sheila, much love and many e-Hugs back.


Go ahead, you can do it! Just whistle if you want me. You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and BLOW....

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