After I returned from boot camp, my next couple of months at home were not easy ones. In spite of everything I'd been through, I had a hard time accepting the fact that my days in uniform were over. Ever since I was a young teenager, I had dreamed of serving my country as a Marine, and now that dream was over. My family accepted me back with open arms, but I had a hard time accepting myself back. I did my best to keep my despair under the radar, but at times, it was overwhelming.
I remembered when a fellow recruit who was transitioning out of the Marine Corps had attended a travel class with me. The man whose job it was to prepare our travel information, had asked my fellow recruit, “What are you going to do back at home?” The recruit answered that she would go to college. But the man scoffed at her answer, telling her that he'd heard that many times before, and that “once a quitter, always a quitter.” He was basically telling her that she didn't have it in her to succeed at anything. I couldn't believe his callousness. Yet his toxic message haunted me. What was I going to do now?
For a time, I did little. I no longer felt capable of doing great things. Nothing seemed to matter anymore. But then, something started happening... people started reaching out to me. They wanted me back... they even needed me. And slowly, I began coming out of my shell. I began to find meaning in life again. Knowing that others needed me was enough to give me a renewed sense of purpose. And so, in spite of my own troubles, I began reaching out to other people.
Somehow, when I am busy helping others, I tend to forget about my own suffering. And not only does this provide a welcome distraction; it actually helps me become whole again, because I know that in the eyes of the people who matter most to me, I am good enough. I may never enjoy the honor of doing anything heroic in my lifetime. But my new goal is to be a “hero” in the only way I know how... to willingly respond to the needs of others with compassion and strength.
Will you join me in this kind of heroism? Even if life has broken you, even if you are not sure if you can make it another day, even if you doubt your own worth, let me tell you: you are good enough. There is someone out there who needs a hero, not the romantic, bulletproof, storybook type of hero, but the quiet type of hero: the person who sees a need and doesn't ignore it, who steps up to the plate and does what has to be done.
Do you need a hero? Then become someone else's hero.