You know that feeling you get that you’re about to drown in a pool of self-doubt?  It is but one of the obstacles on the road to realizing you are the hero of your own story.  When faced with this overwhelming feeling, it helps to have a lifeguard on duty.  I have a few.

In perfect timing, I received an email with the subject line: “What if Frodo had stayed in the Shire?” Hm…I think I see where this is going.

Subject: What if Frodo had stayed in the Shire?

Dear Leikela,

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about changing your perspective. Today we are going to talk about changing your story.

Your life is a story that you create and tell yourself every day. The things that happen to you become the story of your past. The things you want to do become the story of your future. Your experience with dating becomes the story of your love life. Your successes and failures, your ups and downs. All of these become the story of you.

When we embark on a new phase of our life, like starting a new job or going back to school, we have a chance to create a new story for ourselves. In your case, you are a hero fighting against all odds to overcome obstacles and fulfill your destiny to become a UX Designer.

But sometimes our story isn’t so heroic. When things start to get rough, we decide to leave our quest behind and settle back into comfort.

Now pause for a minute and think about some of your favorite movies. If the hero followed the same thinking, how would the story be different?

Frodo really wants to leave the Shire, but after a few days of traveling, he feels like he can’t really be in it for the long haul. Besides, he misses chatting with Samwise on Facebook and endlessly clicking through Reddit.

Katniss has been training every day for the Hunger Games—but she asks herself, is she really ready? What if her form isn’t perfect? Instead of shooting an arrow, she is paralyzed with fear of being judged.

Harry would like to kill Valdemort—but he’s just a boy, and he who shall not be named is a mega wizard who can harness the power of darkness. Harry believes there’s no way he can do it. Instead of leaving Gryffindor, he decides to just watch Netflix and chill with Hermione.

Luke thinks about the long road ahead to saving Leia and defeating Vader…and decides to stay home. He feels like he’s just gonna end up losing anyway, right? Probably better to just stay on the couch and play video games.

Wow. Those stories fell pretty fast.

We each write our own story. Our past doesn’t define us. Our fears don’t control us. All that matters is how we act right now.

Think about a goal or commitment you made to yourself recently. Maybe it was working on your coursework. Maybe it was going to the gym or cooking more at home. Think about the story you tell yourself and the way you picture yourself in this story. Do you see a strong hero overcoming all odds to prevail? Or do you see a normal person whose kryptonite when things get tough is Facebook, a Game of Thrones marathon with a bottle of wine, or giving up and going to bed?

Many times, it’s our own story that’s limiting us. In fact, our fears, anxieties, and feelings of inadequacies are the real obstacles we need to overcome. When things get tough, we tell ourselves that it’s ok to quit, it’s ok to take a break, just this once won’t matter. Or we’re not in the mood today, so we’ll get to it tomorrow…and tomorrow…and tomorrow. And isn’t life too short to have to struggle? We’re going to fail anyway, might as well do it on our own terms. If it’s not perfect from the jump, why do it at all? Besides, we don’t deserve to be successful.

Forget about scary goblins and dark overlords. The real enemy is our own self. But how do we change?

Rewrite the story. Picture yourself as a strong hero who can and will succeed. Slay the dragons of mediocrity, boredom, and procrastination. Resist the demons of Facebook and Netflix. Know in your heart that you are a strong, capable person, and the only option is succeeding.

Sit down and write the daily story of you. What do you see yourself doing? How do you see yourself getting there? What does it feel like to complete an assignment? How does it feel to finish the course? How do you celebrate when you are in your new role as a UX Designer?

And if rewriting the story doesn’t help, let go of the story of you. Allow yourself to ditch the negative voices and stories of failure. Allow yourself to feel the true power that pulses through you. Love yourself enough to do something that you will benefit from. Be thankful for the things that are happening right now.

If you try and it gets tough, reach out for support from your mentor, the Slack community, or from me. Although we learn online, nobody does it alone.

Until next week,

Anaïs Bourg
Career Success Team
Career Foundry

Very encouraging, Anaïs!  Thanks for being the lifeguard on duty.  It turns out I share this feeling with many fictional and, I’m sure, real-life heroes.

I commit to let go of the negative story of “me”, love myself, and be thankful for this moment.  I will press on, against all odds, embracing my role as the hero of my own story.

If you’ve ever faced something that you never thought you would succeed in but kept on going, please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you!