Every journey has an end, whether it be graduating high school, quitting your first job or leaving college. For the second-year journalism students, the end of our journey is the beginning of our future. This is how the Monomyth works.
I was introduced to the Monomyth in Gr. 12 English at St. Stephens in Bowmanville but didn’t really gain an appreciation for it until I studied literature with my high school teacher Mrs. Green.
She’s the reason I pursued a career in writing and chose to go on this journey in journalism.
The Hero’s Journey was created by the late Joseph Campbell, an American professor of literature, and outlines a universal plot line for a hero’s story.
Two well-known examples are Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings.
In short, the hero leaves the ordinary world to enter the extraordinary, fulfills their quest, and re-enters the ordinary world changed for the better.
The Monomyth can also be applied to everyday life.
It all starts in the world where you’re most comfortable. For me, this was high school and the previous 10 years of school micromanaged by teachers and principals.
You can’t be a hero if you stay in your comfort zone.
There needs to be a call to action — a reason to leave what is known and venture to the beyond.
I was graduating high school and needed to move on to something else, my call to action was applying to college.
I applied to the paralegal and law clerk programs at two different schools. I filled my last application spot with Journalism – Mass Media at Durham College.
I thought the law program was where I was supposed to be until the night before program confirmations were to be submitted.
It was dinnertime and I was in my living room on the couch curled into a book, Calvin by Martine Leavitt. I always loved reading but Leavitt told this story of a teen with schizophrenia without revealing his illness. This made me think of people’s stories and how these stories are shared. I realized I wanted to do that.
The journalism program was not originally in my future plans but once I switched, I was more excited to start school than ever.
Starting school didn’t mean crossing the threshold into the extraordinary though. I had a lot of doubt in my potential career.
I went through the separation stages of refusing to believe I was good at journalism. However, this changed after meeting my mentors Teresa Goff, Danielle Harder, Al Fournier, Jocelyn Heenan, and Brian Legree.
I made friends I could rely on and learned tools that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Come second-year, I was ready to jump.
According to Campbell, when the hero crosses the threshold into the extraordinary world, they go through many trials which change them as a person. This is called the initiation.
These experiences include the first failure, meeting allies and enemies, new skills, first success, the grand trial and revelation, discarding the old self and accepting the new role by finally stepping up to the final challenge.
I have had many flops (especially writing print stories) and realized failures are not to be taken to heart. Making “allies” was easy but I quickly discovered that I was my own enemy when it comes to writing. Self-doubt and overthinking are something I am still trying to overcome.
Failure taught me how to pick myself back up and do it again even though I may not be the best. As my colleague, Janis Williams, says “It takes grit to succeed.”
Success does come. I’ve had so many successes over this past year that it’s hard to believe this stage is coming to an end.
I’ve succeeded in putting together radio documentaries, long features, story maps and yes, even sports stories.
How I did I do it? Honestly, I have no idea.
Amongst all of the failures and successes though, the greatest and hardest lesson I’ve come across is: never stop learning.
You will never know everything and everyone you meet will teach you something if you just open up and listen.
This revelation brings me to the end of my journey in the extraordinary, and let me tell you – it is bittersweet.
The final stages of the hero’s journey through the Monomyth is accepting the new person you have become and stepping up to the final challenge.
The final challenge for me is placement.
After placement, the second-year journalism class and I will return to the ordinary world, not as who we were but as the people we have become.
After all, “you must be willing to leave the life you planned in order to find the one waiting for you,” says Campbell.
Saying goodbye to this program and everyone in it will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Right now it feels like the end, and it is, but it is also a beginning.
It is as though we are finishing an old, beat up book with a cracked spine and beginning a fresh new book with a shiny cover and flawless pages.
As journalists, we don’t just write other people’s stories, we also write our own.