“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
This is a guest post by Stephanie Wetzel of Blue Elephant Press.
I am a bit of a sucker for an inspiring story. One of suffering and pain, where it seems that hope is all but lost. Then along comes the hero. The force by which everything changes. The rescuer of the downtrodden rising in glory, saving a life.
Everybody loves the hero. From an early age, we learn the hero makes everything better. The prince wakes a sleeping princess; the cat brings a miller’s son happiness, love, and wealth; the heroine triumphs over evil witches and stepmothers; these are the stories we know from birth. When the hero swoops in, it’s nothing but happily ever after.
Even as we age, stories of the hero continue to surround us in movies, books, and on the local news. Although we feel a renewal of hope when we see and hear these stories, it keeps us stuck. Life goes on, and we’re still sitting around waiting for our rescuer.
As long as you keep waiting, things will stay the same.
I used to tell myself that as soon as this (or that) happened, I would be alright . . . happily living my own ever after. When I changed jobs, my career would become more fulfilling and rewarding. When I met someone, my life would feel more whole and less lonely. When I got a raise, my finances would improve and I would be out of debt. When I took one more workshop, I would be a better writer and start sharing my work.
For my entire life, I waited for my hero—the person or thing that would rescue me.
It wasn’t until I stopped waiting that I realized how bad I let things become. From an outside perspective, I had a pretty great life. Good job, decent salary, nice home, relatively normal family, all the makings of an “American dream.”
The reality of my life was mounting debt, eating habits that were killing me, and an unsatisfactory existence in the role of employee. Not really as bad as a stepmother trying to kill you, but certainly not happily ever after. I had everything I was told to want, and what I really wanted was to be saved from it all.
The turning point makes all the difference.
I knew something had to change. Have you ever looked into the mirror, really stared at yourself, and not recognized the person looking back? I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I had spent so much time being what everyone else wanted me to be, hoping that one of them was my rescuer unlocking the key to my happily ever after, that I was completely lost. All of my waiting and bad habits had left me suffocating in my own life.
I began to realize that my hero wasn’t coming. I knew that if I wanted to truly live the life I had been given, I would have to stop waiting, stand up, and save myself. Part of me understood the difficulties I would face, and part of me denied the challenge ahead.
I thought I could do it alone. After all, I fancy myself a pretty smart cookie who learns things quickly. And that is how I started my journey, alone with a career test and some habit changes that provided good progress. It wasn’t really until this year though, until I got the help I needed through coaching, that I really began to see the hope and possibilities that exist for my life. This is when my progress really began showing.
It’s what you choose to do that matters most.
I have learned this year that my life is a choice. As someone who waited for the answers, for the rescue, this has been a big shift in thinking. But it has been a shift filled with results. I have come face to face with some pretty evil demons, things that I have allowed to exist in my life. Things the hero of my story was supposed to swoop in and vanquish. When I started fighting for myself, the bad things started dying—no hero required.
By slaying the demon of processed foods, I have lost 84 pounds in eleven months. I gave up my title of “fat girl,” and started learning about good nutrition. My eating habits were killing me, and they have been keeping me from being my best self. Before, I was waiting for the hero diet that would rescue me from weight issues. Now, I am saving myself from bad habits. I don’t count calories, I learned how to make smart choices.
By slaying the demon of self-doubt, I am finally launching my own business. This has probably been the most difficult because the voice in my head is really, really loud. She likes to remind me how much I suck, and how I am not good enough to do this. But since I started working with a coach, she seems to be growing a bit quieter every day. Every time I push forward despite the doubt, I feel stronger. I believe that one day soon that voice won’t even make me flinch when she speaks.
By slaying the demon of spending, I will pull myself out of debt. I bought to fill the void. I owe too many people for stuff that is long gone from my life. I hated the idea of budgeting because it made me feel trapped. Although I want roots someplace in the world, I have learned a lot from the minimalists sharing their stories with the world. It really opened my eyes to how much spending was controlling my life. And it has given me tools and ideas to help my growth in this area.
By saving myself, I am starting to feel free. One year ago, I wouldn’t cook my meals. Six months ago, I wouldn’t have written this post. Four months ago, I wouldn’t be pursing my passion. One month ago, I wouldn’t be on someone else’s blog.
Today, everything is different. Today, I made a choice to share my journey with you because I want you to know something I spent years learning—life is yours to create. You get to decide how bad things will affect you. You get a say in how people treat you. You get to choose.
You get to be the Hero . . . Stand up and save your life.
Stephanie Wetzel is a publisher, designer, and marketing strategist on a mission to help writers make bold moves towards independent publishing and creating their own success story. She believes in the power of the written word to change lives, and blogs about it on www.blueelephantpress.com.
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