I’m about to share a tale of the monsters I battled in the last year, particularly one difficult trial in my mythical quest. For those of you unaware of the Hero’s Journey, I’ve inserted a graphic here to exemplify what I mean. (I’ll be creating my own, too, to guide y’all along.) This is sort of a continuation of meaning making and proactivity, as well as the rescripting that Covey mentions in beginning with the end in mind (e.g. Principle/Habit 2).
Act I: Departure/ Separation from the Known
Back in my time as a lowly acolyte of dust and bound paper, I realized that my thirst for knowledge would not be sated at the Shrine of Bookworms. I felt called by something within my soul to seek greater experiences of existential enrichment. I craved fulfillment, and books just weren’t doing it for me anymore. So I answered the call with months of training (i.e., job applications) to identify my vocational specialty.
After waiting for what felt an eternity, I received a missive from the heavens. This missive was time-sensitive and required prompt response, or else I would lose the chance to answer the call. I didn’t just cross the threshold; I jumped over it. I booked it out of my last job in a cloud of dust–in the middle of my second-to-last shift, no less.
I answered the sirens’ call and appeared for my first “career” interview in a Doctor Who t-shirt, blue jean shorts, and brown leather lace-ups. And somehow I got the job, as a teacher in a Catholic middle school. I followed the songs of the siren who hired me, until I was assigned two experienced mentors. Ideally, these mentors would have been my magical weapons or divine aid, but alas, they were not. Fortunately, one God did smile upon my wretched soul and granted me wisdom in my mother and close friends, all veterans of education.
My first challenge was establishing reliable mentorship, and actively relying upon their wisdom. Additionally, I needed to figure out how to actually teach and survive what was soon to become monster-infested waters. I began to notice the dangers too little too late, when my literal crying for help was to no avail. After determining who was there to support me, I then fought the Beast of Imbalance. This entailed finding time to:
- learn to teach children;
- communicate with parents;
- prep, grade, discipline, and assess my pupils;
- deflect the scrutiny of the large-and-in-charge harpy;
- begin graduate school for the first time ever;
- enjoy my boyfriend, friends, and family;
- and somehow find time for myself (which did not happen).
Temptation soon struck when the Imbalanced Beast took its epic toll on me. Tears, gnashing of teeth, and the clenched fists of frustration did not alleviate nor appease the beast. Only when I succumbed to Sloth, one of its minions, did I truly lose the battle with this beast. The darkest moment came soon after the defeat.
Act II: Initiation of Change
The Imbalancing Beast was born of many things. It shared kinship with Sloth who armed itself with Bolas of Procrastination. These beasts also knew Ignorance, who came with a Whip of Inexperience. Last and certainly almost as terrible as the beast itself came Fear, a dualist practiced with the sharp scimitars of Cowardice and Pride. All of these related demons emerged not from the shrieks of the Headless Harpy, who found herself screeching commands at empty-headed minions, but from the hero of this story.
She bore the brunt of verbal lashing and scapegoating from the clueless leader of her adventuring party. She accepted the loss of a major source of support when a mentor departed her. She agreed to steer a rudderless ship through uncharted waters. She failed to document professional harassment. She chose to cling onto the pain of losing a mentor. She refused the wisdom offered to her by those who did care. She ignored the strain teaching and graduate school placed upon her. She lost herself, and in so doing found the Beast of Imbalance. Upon discovering this beast, she invited in all of his friends, too.
Fear not, fair readers! ‘Tis not the end for our heroine, but the baggage she carried into the final conflict. She finally sought aid from the God she’d neglected. Because of His forgiveness and unconditional love, He granted her many gifts to defeat the beast she’d manifested.
First, He bestowed Awareness upon her to open her eyes, heart, and soul to the possibility of hope. Second, He gave Acknowledgement so that she could name the beasts within, freeing her from ignorance and fear. Third, He granted Acceptance so that she might remove the chains, bolts, and locks from her heart so she could leave the monsters behind. Fourth, He blessed her with Forgiveness so that she might embrace the truth behind her fear, weakness, and doubt. Fifth, He left her with Understanding so that she might accept where the battle with the beast took her mind, heart, and soul. And finally, He renewed her Faith, so that she believed in the possibility of conquering the beast.
Act III: Return Home
She used these gifts to tackle, tame, and reshape the beast into something new. And she discovered a secret weapon: The monster you defeat is a victory over self.