There is no question that life is a complex series of events. Some we create, others are created and still more just happen out of the blue. How we deal with each event in our life obviously depends on our outlook on life. There are times when we are confronted by events, and I would say this is most of the time, when we reluctantly attempt to address and find success as these events come our way.
A couple of weeks ago I attended a conference in the US and one of the speakers talked about The Hero’s Journey. I was quite intrigued by this concept of addressing major tasks we have to deal with, whether on a daily basis or preparing for those which lead to new adventures. I would like to center this article on the Hero’s Journey of applying to school – either boarding or university.
The speaker referenced Joseph Campbell, the American author, historian and mythologist known for his comparative writings on mythology and religion. It was from Campbell’s work that Jeffrey Mangrum, the presenter, pulled together the six steps the Hero must take on the journey.
The First Stage or step is The Call to Adventure. There is no question that considering applying to school is a call to adventure. The unknown leads to questions: what lies ahead? The excitement imbues each candidate with a overwhelming sense of what is possible. However, as with any adventure, there is also an element (for some it may be more) of fear. Will I get admitted? Will I make friends? Will I achieve my goal? Will my parents be proud? These and other thoughts flood through the mind of the adventurer. It is the onset of the journey and most are in one way or another reluctant. The problem is, the journey needs to start.
Stage Two is the Supernatural Aid. When I first heard this I balked – supernatural what? In reality it is more commonplace than one thinks. The aid is in fact the person or people who provide the skills and tools to embark on the journey; in most cases this is the school counselor or an independent consultant. Sometimes it is both. These aiders provide mentorship and build trust by providing the appropriate tools, advice and best practices to assist the Hero on the journey that lies ahead.
As with any supernatural aid there are also False Prophets: those who take a role of authority but really are trying to circumvent the journey for profit or some other gain. Who are false prophets? Agents, family friends, well-meaning adults and outside influencers who are not professionals, generally speaking.
Stage Three- Crossing the First Threshold is an important part of the journey. In some cases this is the real onset of the journey. The threshold may be starting the school research process, or taking standardized tests, or even attending seminars or presentations on schools. Some students easily cross this threshold; others look askance at the opportunity. Why should I take a standardized test, as if I am not ready or haven’t prepared enough? Why should I attend that presentation? I’ve never heard of that school, or it’s not up to my standard. Whether the Hero wants to or not, they must at some point cross over. It is scary because so much emotion rests on this endeavor.
Throughout the journey our reluctant hero comes across a number of trials. And this is Stage Four. Taking tests, doing well in school, researching and finding fit schools, writing essays, taking interviews (Vericant or IntialView, or school specific), putting together a list and completing applications (on time) are all trials the Hero must attack. Sometimes these trials reset that path of the journey, or create an alternate route. It is the re-evaluation of the goal and the task that moves the Hero forward.
The achievement is the Fifth Stage – The Prize, and in this case the admission to school(s). Sometimes the prize is exactly what we anticipate, sometimes we fare better and sometimes the prize is not up to our expectations. It is a prize nonetheless and as a Hero, we need to reassess who we are and if the prize actually meets our intended goals.
Stage Six is The Return where we are confronted with a new period of insight. Restoration and renewal are important in this stage, as the Hero needs to take stock of the skills and tools they used. It is also a time to prepare for the next journey. The next stage of course is the Call to Adventure of going off to that school we covet most and were admitted to.
In conclusion, we are all Heroes in some form or fashion. The call to adventure awaits, whether we are ready or not. In many cases we do not think we are prepared but we must journey forth to find value, no matter whether we succeed or fail. We must be attuned to false prophets and work through the trials. In the words of Joseph Campbell: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”