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Everyone of us has one’s own “hero journey” in the face of all the chaos in recent one year

No one will reject the idea that chaos are everywhere in this city in recent one year. The social unrest in Hong Kong and the COVID-19 pandemic caused a lot of challenges in our life. We need to adjust to a new way of living in many aspects, such as virtual learning, online meeting and social distancing. People are worrying about their future due to the political issues, weakening economy and unsettling pandemic. In the face of these crises and uncertainties, some people may experience stress, anxiety, or even trauma. By allowing ourselves to face the uncomfortable experiences in these stressors or traumas, we are having a chance to looking into our inner “self” and undergoing a personal growth.

Joseph Campbell is a mythologist and a professor in literature who proposed an idea that in order to become our best self, we need to go through a “hero journey”. This journey is a calling to live our own unique and authentic lives. In the “hero journey”, an external challenge or problem is unfolded with uncertainties and uncomfortable experiences. In fact, one is also undergoing an inner journey of facing the world by questioning the context of our external world in which we see ourselves. Through this inner journey, we seek to find our own strengths and path in growing into a more complete “self”. 

For example, a university student was arrested in a protest last year in the social unrest. He was facing the charge of criminal damage and experiencing lots of anxiety.  In his inner journey, he might question his external environment that put him into a charge. Through his reflection, he might find his courage and strength to face this challenge. He also has a personal growth of being more able to see the complexity of a certain situations. Another example is a middle aged lady who was infected COVID-19. In the face of the treatment and isolation, she started to reflect on her persistent workaholic lifestyle and find out that actually she has loving, caring and compassionate parts in her “self” while she was isolated. After she recovered, she reduced her working hours significantly and spent more time with her elderly mother.

Even though most of us face difficulties and challenges in recent one year, the fact is that the evolution of our “self” is never ending. According to Joseph Campbell, our current knowledge of our “self” is not the final version. In fact, there is no final version. Campbell emphasized that we must constantly let go of our self-understanding and recreate our “self”. We frequently see people who had undergone traumas experience post-traumatic growth. In our “hero journey”, we found new strengths and potentials of ourselves after conquering our external challenges. As a result, we may be more open to become who we really are. Every time after conquering our challenges, we evolve to a new version of ourselves and become more authentic. We then are less prone to be a person being pushed by our external environment or the societal expectations.

In the hero journey, according to Joseph Campbell, we may return to our external world after our transformation and contribute to our society. Everyone has a different “hero journey” and a different evolution of the “self”. No matter who we become, there is one thing we could be sure. It is the fact that there is no final version of our “self” and we need to be more open-minded to explore who we are in this lifelong journey.

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