We have all felt it. Stagnation, apathy, depressive cycles, misery. Our minds, at times, seem to turn against us. The knowledge that we have spent our lives dutifully filling our heads with, becomes heavy and paralysing. We look for ways to numb ourselves so we can avoid feeling the full wrath of our insidious emotions, and that’s before we even consider neurodivergence, mental illness and the varying effects of trauma which can cause a boundless amount of mental anguish.
From childhoods filled with books, movies, and television shows, where loveable brave protagonists battled against evils villains and perilous odds, we grew up with lofty expectations. Our lives were meant to be spent chasing endless adventure, epic romance, and unfathomable riches.
So, what happened?
False expectations for the most part. The most epic tales, told to children the world over, since the dawn of civilization, were created with the intention of educating, entertaining and inspiring the young so that they would then have the courage to dream big, and overcome challenges. However, they left out the most crucial part.
That is, the internal battle waging inside the protagonist’s own head. This is not something that is easy to convey, especially to a young audience that may not have the emotional or cognitive ability to fully relate to certain situations. And does it hamper a good story?
We only see glimpses, where attempts have been made to try and convey a sense of emotional torment in the face of decision paralysis. Many refer to these moments in the Hero Story as a “refusal to answer the call”.
To overcome these momentary blips in the narrative, a scenario is created where the protagonist often has little choice but to answer the call. To help move the story along, our protagonist becomes the reluctant hero.
In our modern lives, where we can enjoy the luxury of relative peace, we rarely encounter situations where we are forced to take on the role of the reluctant hero. Our choices and ensuing deliberation are left to us alone, along with an excessive amount of social pressure and unsolicited advice from social media and the web, that only confuses us further.