I enjoy hero stories. I enjoy watching the characters as they develop. I find one common thing in them all – they struggle. Oh, it may not seem like it because some of them seem to have it “together” no matter what they do (Bond, James Bond), but if you pay close attention, they all run into a dilemma that tests them.

Many have issues with love. Whether it’s falling in love, protecting the ones they love, or hiding their hearts from love (and usually failing at that). Others face identity and self-esteem problems. Others struggle with power and control. Some have problems finding a place to belong. Many struggle with thoughts of quitting.

One of my favorite heroes is actually a supporting character – Mr. Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings. Here’s a guy who relentlessly follows his master/friend to unknown horrors and challenges, keeping an optimistic outlook, encouraging Frodo, keeping hope alive, even physically carrying Frodo.

Another supporting character who deserves hero credit is Neville Longbottom from the Harry Potter series. This kid grows! He changes from an unsure, nervous, clumsy kid into a strong, brave young man who has the nerve to stand up to the villain! Without him, Harry Potter and company never would have been able to accomplish our happy ending.

After watching the movies or reading the books, I find myself wondering “How would I handle it if I were in their shoes?” Well, duh, I’d volunteer, grab that sword, destroy the ring, jump through fire to save my friends and family, fly that plane (and land it perfectly), and gallop off into the sunset. What? I would…

…or would I? I would make a great hero prospect because, after all, I struggle with self-esteem, anger, power, belonging, love, faith, sadness, anxiety, and wanting to quit. My hero story would show epic growth as a character.

But I forget that I’m already a hero. Not a hero in the sense of saving the world (my respects to those who risk their lives to help others). I’m talking about a hero in the sense of a role model, an inspiration. I’m already growing and changing. My children look up to me for protection, love, understanding, and to be that positive role model. There are times when I want to quit because this journey that I’m on – it’s difficult. I may not be climbing mountains, fighting trolls/orcs/villains, traveling to exotic locations to save the world but I am climbing my mental mountains, fighting the many “villains” that threaten to overcome me (anxiety, negativity, etc.), and I’m trying my very best to save my world – to make the world that I live in with my husband and children the very best it can be.

And there’s you. You are a hero, too. You go through struggles, and overcome them. You want to quit, probably multiple times, like me, but you don’t because others are depending on you and  there’s an intrinsic desire to succeed. Isn’t that what every hero character goes through? Your hero story may not seem exotic or important, BUT IT IS! You inspire someone. I can’t tell you how many of my clients come to me with their stories of struggle, and I am in awe of their perseverance, strength and resiliency.

So when you want to quit, when that burden you carry becomes too heavy – remember, YOU are somebody’s hero, their inspiration, their reason for continuing their journey.

Photo credit: a song under the sugar sugar via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Jessica McCaslin

Jessica is a mom who is working outside the home part-time and who is learning to cope with the ever-changing daily challenges of full-time parenthood. She graduated with her Master's degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2005, and works with a diverse mental health population. Jessica resides in Central Nebraska with her husband and four children on the family ranch.