Spencer West, motivational speaker and partner of Me to We, uses his personal struggles to encourage young people to look beyond their own circumstances and see how they can make a difference to others. In this excerpt from his book, "Standing Tall, My Journey," West offers insight into how he developed his own path when feeling lost in life.
I wheeled myself to my computer and began searching websites for information on Joseph Campbell’s idea of the hero’s journey. One site listed a summary of the steps the hero takes, with the first being the “call to adventure.” I realized that was what happened to me with cheerleading, and then again in New York. The call to adventure.
“Oh, geez,” I gasped aloud, as I read the descriptions of some of the other steps. “I am right in the middle of the hero’s journey.”
I became so engrossed in my reading that I completely missed dinner that night. At about midnight, I shut off the computer, lay down on my bed and contemplated everything.
I was at the stages that Campbell calls “refusing the call” and “in the belly of the whale.” I knew, for example, that I wanted to do theater of some sort. I wanted to entertain people. But I had let my depression stop me from even going to a play on campus. I had refused the call. I’d let obstacles hold me back.
“In the belly of the whale” is the point in the hero’s journey when he or she is transiting between worlds and selves. I, of course, was moving from Rock Springs and my comfortable, sheltered life to having to take responsibility for myself and my own happiness. Mom was right, like usual. I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself. I needed to fight for what I wanted.
One small problem: everything around me showed me what I didn’t want.
Before falling asleep, I racked my brain, reliving memories of my past, summing up those moments when I was truly at peace with myself, and asking myself the same question over and over again: “What is it I am meant to do in life? What is the adventure I am being called to take?” I came up with nothing but I knew that it was time I faced my fears and looked inside myself.
When the hero eventually lets go and surrenders to his or her journey, something magical begins to happen. Campbell call it the stage of “supernatural aid.” This guiding force may not be visible at first, and it is only now, in looking back, that I fully see that something greater than me was at work. But slowly, as I began to learn to be alone, really alone, people—or as I call them now, my angels—started to emerge.
Have you ever been to 'that place,' and how did the decisions affect your life? Let us know in the comments below.