A hero is a person admired or idealized for their acts of courage, a person exhibiting outstanding achievements beyond the ordinary. In order to achieve a goal of rising above the ordinary you have to become your own hero. Being a hero means you are able to stand against the wind and you are able to weather the storm, no matter how hard or long it may rain.
Usually being a hero is associated with a man saving children, putting out a fire as a fireman or men losing their lives as a cost of war. These are all acts of courage, but males are not the only human beings who can rise above the ordinary to do heroic acts.
A hero or a person who completes heroic acts can be seemingly ordinary people, but people of courage and will.
When I was recruiting students for the University of Irvine, California, I remember going to predominantly black high school in Compton, California. I was ushered in by a security guard to go to a back room of the library to meet five high achieving black students. These students had the passion, the integrity and the courage to rise above their surroundings in order to be more. They were willing to be support of their dream to acquire knowledge and access to a better world. In support of their bravery, they needed an armed guard to protect them during their normal school day. They were future heroes to their communities.
Women who are single mothers raising their children are heroes because of their selflessness, their integrity to be supportive of themselves and their children. They are patient and caring as they continue to be confident that all inhabitants of the household will be able to be fed and all would be taught the logistics of doing right and wrong, a single mother. They had become the sole provider of house and home for their growing children, which meant they no longer had personal lives of their own. These women became both father and mother to their growing and developing children. This journey is a test of faith, hoping for a positive outcome.
Women and men who educate themselves in areas that are thought to be gender assigned occupations are heroes. These human beings reflect the possibilities of how powerful and expansive one as a human being we can be. Their lives, their sense of vision becomes our hope of our futures, a freedom to be.
In the 1960’s, as a male student in a female dominated beauty school, I was not accepted as one who could succeed. I knew I was artistic, because I could write and I had a flair for wood work. When I was told I would not succeed, I took the challenge and I became bent on proving them wrong. I went from being all fingers and thumbs to winning top honors in competitions. I practiced every day until it became natural. I had the courage and the compassion to be my own hero and achieve my goal of being a successful hair designer, in spite of the fact of being a man with all thumbs and fingers.
As a male working within a female environment, I learned the lives and stories of the female gender and I developed a better sense of balance of the traits associated being either a man or a woman. It took courage to maintain my manhood within the female environment. It took courage to be respectful when I felt isolated and wanted to attempt to take control. I learned from women how to channel my rage. I am just one example of many who crossed the gender-assigned occupational roles such as women who become prison guards to support and feed their families and pay the mortgage on the home.
I have a childhood friend who has been a teacher for over forty years. She is retired, yet still, she volunteers to teach children at risk. She is a living hero to her community.
We are thankful to our soldiers, our firemen, our policemen for their bravery and service. Yet, there are many everyday heroes who make a difference in our world. These are the heroes who are able to stand against the wind and are willing to weather the storm until it passes. This means just putting your faith in your hip pocket and your vision straight ahead. This means believing in the unseen and having the courage and the compassion to achieve success in changing or saving someone else’s life.
When you save your own life, and turn your sad story into a tale of personal success, then turn around to be a service to yourself and then to your community, you become your own hero.
We must also remember and recognize the faces of our soldiers, our firemen and our policemen are changing in color and in gender, in these modern times. We must remember these human movements within our society are too, within themselves, are heroic acts of courage.
WE can become our own heroes.