Relationships and the heroic journey


Relationships and the Heroic Journey

With peer, parent or girl/boyfriend relationships, almost every element of the heroic journey comes into play.  You leave the known world of relatively simple childhood relationships and go forth into all the unknown and tests of the world of young adult relationships – parent and family, peer and romantic relationships.

Heroes Never Go Alone

Just as the heroes in myths, you need to find people who can be guides, helpers, healers, role models and companions.  You will need those people, partly for companionship on the journey and partly to provide guidance or healing when you run into the inevitable setbacks or injuries (physical and emotional).

You find them in your web of relationships – and they may change over the course of your journey.  

You will also encounter people who will hurt you, lead you astray, compete with you, undermine you or just be indifferent.  The competitors can strengthen you, but the others will be a challenge to deal with. Learning how to do that is part of the journey.   

Along the way you will need to take risks to connect with others and you will have successes and breakthroughs as well as setbacks and disappointments.  Some relationships and relationship skills will fall into place and others will seem to stay just out of reach. This is where the ability to persevere comes into play.  

The teenage journey is a long journey with tough complex challenges, so the key is to persevere and not get discouraged (or let yourself be diminished) – even on the toughest days.

All Three Types of Tests are Encountered

All three of the tests are frequently encountered – letting go, discovery and mastery and “inbetweenity.”  There are usually lots of endings – of childhood relationships and of relationships that come and go during the teenage years.  The tasks of mastering relationship skills and emotional competency are as hard as any encountered.

And there is so much “inbetweenity” with its uncertainty, doubts, confusion and anxiety – also its excitement, hope, insights and breakthroughs.  This is where the roller coaster of emotions can be at its most extreme.

The Quality Required is Courage – it is That Simple and That Tough

The courage to care, the courage to reach out, the courage to ask for what you want/need, the courage to ask others what they want/need, the courage to say “I’m sorry” when appropriate.

It simply takes courage to go out amongst others, all trying to finds their way on the journey.  It takes courage to look at yourself and courage to reveal yourself to others in order to provide the ground for significant relationships.  Courage is required because of the unknown and the lack of experience and the sense of being unprepared.

Remember.  Courage is not the lack of fear or anxiety.  Courage is the willingness to take the risk and go ahead despite feeling anxious or fearful.

A Surprising Question, “What Role Are You Playing the Journeys of others”?

What roles might you play for others?  This is the companion question to the roles others play in your journey.  Companion, helper, role model, healer, competitor? Or enemy, someone who leads others astray or undermines them on their journeys?  The first task is to ask yourself the questions.

The second task is to listen to your answers.  Being conscious of the roles that you play or want to play gives you a lot of power in those relationships as it helps you be the author of the experience.  This is extraordinarily important as you can develop relationships with others by focusing on what you might be able to bring to the relationship.

You can find a lot of guidance in how to play helpful roles in the journeys of your peers by looking back at the chapter on the identity challenge and particularly the section on your significance.  That section focuses on the difference you can make by doing the little things. You can also look at the characteristics of a healthy relationship in this chapter to see how you might play positive roles.  And you can simply ask peers how you can be a supportive companion on this shared journey.

Get Active

This means avoiding the tendency when struggling to pull back into your room or online activities.  That kind of withdrawal is OK to nurse a wound or take a short break, but not much will happen in terms of developing healthy relationships if you withdraw for too long.

Learn something.  There is a lot to learn outside of school and most of that learning happens in small groups.  That can range from cooking and creative writing to basic repair or construction skills – or even becoming an EMT (emergency medical technician).  You will have to do some exploring, but the opportunities are out there.

Volunteer.  This is a good way to get connected, learn something, gain experience in general –  and give to people. As with activities, there is a very wide range of possibilities, so do some exploring and see what you can find.  It may take a few attempts to find a good fit.