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The other day a friend and former boss referred to me as her hero. This made me a little uncomfortable. I thanked her instead of negating what she said [which is something I am working on, accepting compliments without trying to convince the other they are wrong…I know, I am a work in progress!] and carried on.

But, typical for me, this all began a stream of consciousness which led me to ask myself what I consider a hero and why it made me uncomfortable.

I began to think about those who I think of as heroes. My heroes are those who allow themselves to be human in a world where it isn’t so easy. They show up, they feel all of the feelings- the good, the bad, the truly painful, and still choose to show up.

My hero is the teen who comes out to their family and friends knowing what is at stake if they do and if they don’t; my hero is the man who chooses to ask for help in his drinking even though he doesn’t know life without it; my hero is the woman who decides to travel abroad because she can’t imagine staying in one place any longer; my hero is someone who chooses to stand up and speak for those who are silenced while being ridiculed for it.  My heroes are those who own their truth, live unapologetically, and who intentionally choose to live life as they see fit. They are human and realize that because of this, they are not perfect nor will they ever be and that is fine with them.

And then I had a realization: I am; we are surrounded by heroes daily; all of the time! I see incredible examples of those being heroic in their lives despite all of the reasons not to.  With this realization, I understood exactly why my friend had referred to me as her hero, because if her definition at all matches mine, I guess I am a hero. Up until this moment, I had never considered how I live my life as heroic yet it is. It isn’t easy to do all of these things I have listed in my definition. I can tell you, there have been endless times I had the thought that I could easily blend into the crowd to avoid feeling and avoid showing up yet I never chose to do it. Why? Because this would be inauthentic to me and who I am and there is just no way I will be anything but my true self ever again.

In processing all of this, I also understood that I felt uncomfortable because typically those who are considered heroes are put on a pedestal; I don’t ever want to be put on a pedestal, I am most comfortable hanging out on the ground like the rest of us. Heck, I want to hang out with the other heroes who are way more heroic than I’ll ever be!

So here’s the thing, everyone’s definition of a hero varies. So I wonder, what is your definition of a hero and do you embody those same traits? You never know, you may just be your very own hero!

Until next time,



headshotAbout the Author:

Dr. Lily A. Zehner, MFT-C is a therapist who specializes in sex, intimacy, and relationships. Her private practice is located in Denver where she helps others reach their fullest relational and sexual potential. To learn more about her and her services, please feel free to take a look around her website.


About the Author