The Heroine’s Journey Begins
Did you know that 87% of women will have a “major life upset” by the time they are age 50? Yikes! Has it happened to you? If it has, then you have embarked upon The Heroine’s Journey.
As thought leader and noted researcher, Berne Brown, said, “You may not have signed up for the Hero[ine’s] Journey, but the second that you fell down, got your butt kicked, suffered disappointment, screwed up, or felt your heart break — it started.”
This “major life upset” or “Crisis” is the impetus that ignites your Heroine’s Journey. You are not alone. While it can feel painful, scary and even life-threatening at times, The Heroine’s Journey is a universal path that propels you and other women alike.
As you journey along, you come to realize that this “upset” is really the start of something big – a blessing for your life. It ultimately leads to the full realization of who you truly are.
Some would say, “I want to avoid ‘upset.’ I’d rather just stay home and be comfortable.” Yes, that’s where the Journey starts. In a place where you think life is comfortably designed. Then a health issue, divorce, job loss, family issue or financial crisis comes seemingly out of the blue and rocks your world, propelling you unexpectedly on a journey into the Unknown.
For me it was a divorce, one that I wasn’t at all prepared to encounter. Then it was followed by a family estate issue that frankly left me speechless and whipped me down on my knees.
While none of us would wish upon another sister the kinds of “upsets” that can happen – that 87% statistic that I opened this article with – shows that, for most of us, there is something that happens that causes a radical shift in our lives.
What then inevitably unfolds is what we call The Heroine’s Journey.
Interesting that this universal path of growth for women has been discounted for so long. Joseph Campbell was famous for defining the ‘Hero’s’ Journey. This is the classic path that a man takes to go from immaturity to maturity. In the process a man is called to bring out the best of himself and deal with the challenges that are thrown his way, returning home to share what he has learned with his community.
Why is it that Joseph Campbell did not include women in such a process of maturity or self-realization? When asked about this by noted author Elizabeth Gilbert, Campbell is reported to have said to her: “Women do not have a Hero’s Journey, they just stay home and cry!” When I heard this from Elizabeth Gilbert speaking on the 2014 ‘The Life You Want’ Oprah Tour — I all but fell out of my chair in shock!
Women most certainly have a Heroine’s Journey! These big life upsets are the start of this process that is designed to inspire the development of courage and strength in a woman. I know because I’ve been on the journey, fought the battles, dug deep to keep going, thought at times that I was going to die from the challenge of it all — and have survived. And I have seen my “sisters” do the same.
If it was actually true that women don’t have Heroine’s Journeys, there would be no Heroine’s — no Joan of Arcs, Amelia Erhearts, Rosa Parks, Ayn Rands, Eleanor Roosevelts, Oprahs or Elizabeth Gilberts. These women, true Heroines, have shown us their struggles and revelations in the development of their extraordinary lives. They matured, transitioned and built upon their struggles, failures, disappointments and evolved into their notable selves. They are our Heroines!
The Heroine’s Journey can be really difficult at times, understandably so. But this ‘crisis’ is an invitation to do two things. First, to surrender your outmoded ways of thinking that have kept you limited and really haven’t kept you safe. And secondly, to collaborate with other women so you can survive, be supported and understand this universal journey and the beauty it can bring to your life when you stay open to it.
This may not be what you are wanting to hear if you are in the middle of it right now. However, the benefit of clarity is knowing that things will change. You won’t always be where you are right now, and you are in a grand process that is uniquely your own, but also shared by all women as we blossom into our true selves.
Many of the 87% of us who get catapulted onto the Journey feel more than a bit dazed. Can you do this, you might ask? Yes, and the Heroine’s Journey calls you to a more fulfilled expression of your life. It’s what lifts you up and moves you along.
The “Crisis” put you on the path, but then where do you go from this beginning? The Heroine’s Journey has 13 distinct steps that take you through a universal life path in your own unique way. In the first several steps you Create Your Stability, then you wake up your authentic self, then you use and monetize your full expression and this leads you to show up in the world with your unique contributions to benefit others.
Look around. There are Heroine’s around you who are meeting their challenges and take your breath away with the circumstances that they have surmounted. I am intrigued by the stories that women all around me tell me about the passages that they have been through in their own Heroine’s Journeys.
And, you know, I always ask the question, “Would you change anything?” What I am often told is that they would not. “I wouldn’t change a thing now. It was as it was meant to be, for everyone.” Wow…that is a deep milestone of the Journey, a whole reshaping from the inside out! Heroine’s see the purposeful journey that they have been on as a path to grow into the beautiful spirit that they have become. In spite of the difficulties, they see the gifts that have been born from their experience.
I, myself, have been amazed to see transformation in my own life. What I thought was ‘the most awful thing that could have happened to me,’ when I look back on it from a distance down the path changes form and shape to ‘the best thing that could have happened to me’. This Crisis was also what moved me along to a new place to live, a new purposeful business that I developed, new opportunities and new personal insights.
Life’s turmoil and challenges are usually a positive impetus to consciously align yourself with your highest self and highest good. Believe it or not, sometimes life circumstances come along to upset your apple cart on purpose! This is your calling to be the Heroine of your life.
While there are historical Heroines or Heroine figures in your present life, the real Heroine is you. You are living this life of struggle and discovery and mustering up your courage and strength to walk, step-by-step, into the full realization of who you truly are — your worthiness and unique expression. You are a Heroine on her very own Heroine’s Journey. See you along the way!