"Your thoughts are better spent on the things you can change, not those you can’t.” – Doctor Fate
As ordinary individuals, as extraordinary ones, and all that fall anywhere in between- the idea of a hero and what it means to fall under the proverbial label of "hero" is something that has drawn interest, debate, and definitions for what I'm sure is most if not all human existence. And while we can define a hero, however, we see fit as a collective, we tend to follow the ones given to us through experiences, media, and definitions.
Even Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a hero as multiple things:
a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability
an illustrious warrior
a person admired for achievements and noble qualities
One who shows great courage
the principal character in a literary or dramatic work —used specifically of a principal male character especially when contrasted with a heroine
the central figure in an event, period, or movement
an object of extreme admiration and devotion
With so many definitions determining the status of what makes the mark of a traditional hero, it can be daunting to contemplate naming your own hero who isn't based on fiction. Our everyday lives can be overwhelming and stressful, leaving us feeling discouraged and powerless. One of the newest films in the DC Extended Universe, Black Adam, is an excellent example of lessons we can translate into our lives. A film that delivers the timeline elapse of nearly 5,000 years, we watch how a man develops from man to myth to legend as Teth Adam is introduced to us through the actions of modern-day archaeologist Adrianna Tomaz who is determined to locate the long last Crown of Sabbac while evading the Intergang, the current oppressors of their homeland of Khandaq. While obtaining the historical crown, Adrianna unknowingly awakens Teth Adam, the 'hero' responsible for freeing the ancient people of Khandaq from their tyrannical ruler all those years ago.
Your Past Doesn't Define You
In waking Teth Adam, Adrianna is faced with the predicament of danger coming from every direction, with the forces of the Intergang trying to capture her and the crown and the outraged, mighty Teth Adam, who in her attempts outrun those chasing her kills several of those on her trail. An aerial attack causes Teth Adam to get hit and fall comatose as she continues her escape. Adrianna is faced with two choices; give in to her fear and surrender herself and the crown to the Intergang forces or risk the danger of this unknown killing machine that ultimately saved her from her imminent death.
Adrianna learns the powerful story of redemption as shown through the evolution of Teth Adam, who teaches us important life lessons we can gain from.
As Teth Adam comes to, he is unmoved by Adrianna and her son's efforts to heal him and not interested in the idea of being labeled anyone's hero as her son tries to fill him with the version of the man that others are viewing him in. Adamant that he is no one's Hero and replays the events that led him to the prison from which Adrianna woke him in the first place. The enslavement of his people and the deaths of his wife and son, aka “The Champion” and Khandaq’s original hero, bestowed the powers of the gods and chose to give his life in exchange for allowing Teth to survive by transferring his powers to his father.
Learning from Your Mistakes
Submitting to the full extent of his grief and rage, Teth destroyed the ancient King who took his family from him and anyone who got in his way. Only to be locked away in the cave he was later freed from by Adrianna. As the present takes root, his past stops driving his actions. He chooses to stand up to the Justice League's opinion and Sabbac (present villain) to do right by Adrianna and her son. In standing up to the Justice League, he imparts the importance of determining the outcome of your own story through your actions today rather than yesterday's choices.
As Teth starts to see his past in a new light, he begins to see the need to change how he views his past self, his choices, and the actions he chooses to take today to shape a different outcome for his life and future. Accepting the perspective of Doctor Fate from the Justice Team, he uses this new perspective to take his past and move beyond the guilt and shame he feels surrounding the death of his son. He stops allowing the choices of his past in doubting his son's vision to save Khandaq to fuel the resentment and anger that led him to his imprisonment.
You Can Be the Hero in Someone Else's Story
As Teth Adam continues to move forward and let go of the vision of who he was, instead showing up as he chooses in turn, his actions lead him to live up to the image of a hero his son always aspired to be. In choosing to save Adrianna's son, help the Justice Team conquer Sabbac, trust in Hawkman despite their continued disparaging views on values and acceptable actions, and pass him his powers - together, they can defeat their demons. And while we can't relate to the reality of possessing superpowers fueled by our anger, we can relate to the power it takes to accept our pain, anger, and grief and choose actions that fuel positive choices despite that which haunts us.
We are the creators of our destiny as we face each new factor in our story. We hold the power to choose actions through the lens of the person we used to be or to write a new course for the Hero we deserved to have from the beginning. How can you change the way you approach challenges? Choosing not to live in the past and not allowing what used to be to take the place of our present moment sets the stage for us to take control of our narrative.
Using our mistakes to learn and grow from within builds the skills and characteristics that draw us toward our beloved superhero films in the first place. Don't worry about being better than anyone other than who you were yesterday, and slowly you too can evolve into the Hero in someone else's story.
Reframing how we see ourselves is a decisive step to owning your narrative and the direction it takes moving forward. We often allow the perception of our past, mistakes, self-doubt, and our criticisms to color who we show up as. Still, just as in the evolution of Teth into the legendary Black Adam, the best heroes don't fall into the pre-scripted idea of what a hero is meant to be. They own their story, disappointments and all, to become exactly who they are meant to be.
Don't just tell your children how to “show up" as the best version of themselves; actively work to show them the significance and power it takes “to consistently show up despite the challenges you face.” Show yourself what it means to live as your own Hero. Grow from where you've been and learn that the road to redemption can lead to you becoming your own Hero regardless of where you've been.
A self-described geek, Maria Laquerre-Diego is a CEO and Owner who is committed to increasing access to mental health services and breaking down the stigma surrounding therapy services. As a therapist turned CEO, Maria has developed a unique perspective when it comes to mental health and the barriers surrounding mental health treatment. Influenced by her time at New Mexico State University in the Family and Consumer Science department, and University of New Hampshire’s Marriage and Family Therapy department, Maria has turned her dedication to giving back and supporting future generations of therapists. In addition to supporting mental health providers, Maria takes an active role in addressing the continued stigma of mental health services through the use of pop culture – everything from movies and television shows to superheroes and Disney characters. Maria has spoken about mental health at several local events, has served as an officer on professional boards and has provided training to clinicians all over the country while maintaining her and her family’s roots as Aggies! Outside of the office, Maria can be found spending time with her family and loved ones, exploring the world through travel, and creating cosplays for herself, her husband and their two little ones. Maria is always happy to talk about Star Wars, Marvel and mental health and can be contacted through her practice website www.anewhopetc.org