There’s a concept called the monomyth coined by author Joseph Campbell. It’s the idea that no matter the culture, the prevailing myths told to one another have the same general outline for the hero’s journey.
The journey consists of three phases: departure, initiation, and return. And in today’s society, no matter the human, we are all on our own hero’s journey.
That feeling of doubt, uncertainty, and complete lack of direction is not only completely normal but part of your initiation phase. You’re not lost; in fact, you’re a lot more en route than you think you are.
We are all born into the world being our raw selves. We have not yet had society’s constructs or our parent’s expectations placed upon us. We are authentic, self-aligned, and pure.
But as we grow up, it’s natural to be molded by the outside forces that govern us and, in a sense, keep us safe. Our parents are there to feed and protect us, but along with these needs they also give us their beliefs, notions of how life should be lived, and attempt to control certain parts of our personality.
As kids, it goes by mostly unnoticed. Sure, there’s an occasional tantrum, but we are entirely unaware of the deeper, psychological impact our parents are having on us.
As we grow older and venture into our teen years, we begin to realize that our thoughts are our own. We start to form our own opinions, ones that often differ from our parents and feel a bit destabilizing to venture too far into.
You could consider this the departure phase. The moment that we start to realize that our authentic self isn’t in our parents’ understanding of the world. That may be how we think and what truly makes us happy is different than what we were told by those around us.
As we venture into our 20’s, our initiation period begins. It’s a time when we re-think the narratives we’ve been told, struggle with our identity, and fight the pressures of conforming to others’ molds.
It’s a super confusing time because growing up, we were fed the idea that we should have life figured out by our twenties. That this time is meant for climbing the corporate ladder, settling down, having kids, and saving for the future, not a time of career changes, moving across the world to explore foreign lands, and just trying to get by each and every day. But, like what we realized in the departure phase, this notion of our twenties is wrong.
It’s completely normal and healthy to be still figuring out who you are in your twenties. These years of our lives are meant to be the time you venture out into the world, question what you encounter, and decide what aligns with your authentic self, the one you’ve always had with you but has been buried beneath other’s expectations and beliefs.
You’re right on track if you feel doubt or uncertainty. You’re at the point in your growth where you realize that what once kept you safe and brought you to this place is no longer serving you. Leaving that area of comfort and safety creates a very uneasy feeling and will make the strongest of people question if they’re doing the right thing.
But you are. Because this journey isn’t about anyone else but yourself. This journey isn’t about anyone else’s expectations but your own. This journey isn’t about anyone’s happiness but yours.
It’s a roller coaster of emotions. It’s taking in the bad and experiencing what’s not meant for you so you can appreciate the best parts of life and truly understand what aligns with you.
And one day, maybe without even realizing it, you’ll come to the last stage: the return. No, not a return to a physical location. Not a return to your parents or friends. It’s an internal return; a return to yourself.
The return will feel like a moment of “ahh, this is right” with just being you. You’ll understand who you are, undressed from everything placed upon you by society and your parents. A feeling of being at home in yourself.
And when that return happens, the whole journey will have made so much sense. The upheavals and doubts all led you down this path.
The path of your hero’s journey; the journey of returning to your authentic self.