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What is a hero?

Recently I was challenged with a statement. I was told by a good friend that I’m his hero and he hopes his daughter grows up like me. I don’t see myself as a hero. I’ve been soul searching since then to define what a hero is to me. Here goes.

We all know heroes are those who run into burning buildings to save lives, those who put themselves between you and serious danger. The police, fire, rescue and soldiers are indeed one form of hero. They are very worthy of the praises as well. But are they the only heroes?

Well I went to the dictionary to find what a hero is. A person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Based on these words would I be a hero and worthy of admiration? Well let’s break it down.


What is courage. Courage is the ability to do something that frightens one. Wow that leaves the door wide open. We are all courageous in our own ways. But does it rise to the level of hero? Perhaps to one looking in from the outside an act or active maybe seen as courageous while the one doing it sees it merely as something they must endure.

Outstanding achievement,

Well Outstanding means to Stand out among others of its kind; prominent. While achievement means to accomplishing or finishing something. So an outstanding achievement would be to complete something that stands out against others of its kind. I have no outstanding achievements. I’ve completed college as have tens of thousands of others that same year.

Noble Qualities,

Noble qualities are thought of as having or showing qualities of high moral character, such as courage, generosity, or honor. Back to courage is seems. I do not find myself overly generous, we all help those less fortunate because it’s right not because it’s noble or for recognition. Honor, something I hadn’t considered. I do try and live with honor. To me honor is about doing the right thing. The right thing isn’t always the easy thing. Which is courage I guess on its own. Honor is a life styles not a momentary thing that happens.

So who are my heroes?

Well there are Firemen, Policemen, soldiers and emergency workers. Of course they are heroes but what about personal, everyday heroes? I hadn’t really considered them before now. The everyday hero, the one we look to when things are bad.

My mother and father are heroes to me. They have raised my 4 brothers, 2 sisters, myself and my son Josef. My dad is a good man of honor who instilled value and virtue into us all. He has shown me strength and kindness when they were needed and discipline as needed as well. My mother showed us grace, patience and love. Undying, unfaltering, unending love and this was my mothers gift of heart.

My brother Martin whom helped me many months and years, and gave of his own time freely to me. I know he’d rather have been out with his friends than helping his sister stand and walk. But without asking he stayed with me and even years after is still taking care of his baby sister.

Anyone fighting the desire to end their lives and choosing to live instead. This takes courage that comes from someplace deep within and not all have the strength to find it. Once found not all have the courage to remain here for the struggle.

People helping others not because they get paid to but because it’s the right thing to do. From the soup kitchen worker to the minister, from the animal rescue volunteers to the therapist giving their own time to help others.

These are my heroes. But am I a hero?

I still do not see myself as a hero. I am a person doing what must be done and trying to live by honor.  I know it takes courage but it’s a front when I faced the men who injured me as a child I was scared and I wanted to run away. It didn’t feel very courageous to me but in the end of the day I guess courage is facing our fears and doing what must be done.

For me it was less about courage to do the things I’ve done and more about honor. I know with honor death itself can’t steal your name. I had to face these men not for courage but for me. I needed to tell them you are dead to me and you don’t have power here any longer.

In the end I guess we can all be heroes or zeroes at varying parts of our lives. To one you might be a hero and to his neighbor a zero. The key remains not what others think of you but what you think of you. If you are a person you can be proud of then what others think is irrelevant.

I am proud of my life. I help others in need, I have overcome adversity, I’m a rape survivor, I’m a suicide survivor, I mentor others who’ve been raped and I live a decent life. I struggle with cutting and am trying to free myself of this addiction and I share this with others in a hope if they or someone they know is a cutter they may find a little strength knowing they are not alone. None of it elevates me in my eyes to hero.

Hero is a personal thing I’ve discovered and differs from person to person. Ultimately if my friend sees me as a hero all I can do is try and live a life worthy of his praise. I’m not sure I’d want my daughter growing up like me I’ve made many terrible mistakes but in the end it’s the grace we wield while we stumble and how we recover from it. It’s what we take away from our mistakes and how we make positive changes that matters in life.

To any who look to me and see courage, know that my knees shake and I am afraid. I have great friends and family from who I’ve received much strength and blessing. At the end of the day a hero is personal to each of us and I am honor by any looking to me as such. I am honored you see in me the qualities worthy of such a word and I will try not to let you down.

My lesson today is: Remember in the eyes of another you may go from Zero to Hero just like that.

~Michelle Styles October 29, 2013