“If you banish the dragons, you banish the heroes.” -Andrew Solomon

A lot can be said about adversity. Everyone has to face it at different points of their lives, and everyone’s responses are unique. Some people cower away when adversity comes their way, while others face it head on, the thought of backing down never crossing their minds. Adversity helps shape all of us into the people we are. Without it, there is no growth. But what should we do when adversity blocks our way? How do we face it and still remain as heroes? Is life better with no adversity at all?

I first came across the quote, “if you banish the dragons, you banish the heroes” while on the public transportation system in Cleveland, Ohio. It mainly caught my eye from the artful piece that accompanied it, but after reading it a few times, the message stuck in my head. I’ve always loved fantasy epics of daring heroes who had to slay the mighty dragons to save their kingdoms (and even a few where the heroes rode dragons). 
Most of the time I feel like my mind is in a constant fantasy state, trying to escape reality and the pain that can come with it. So it was really no surprise that a quote like this would stay with me, even after leaving the city of Cleveland and returning home. I later found an online copy of the same graphic and currently have it hanging in my cubicle at work as a constant reminder. Every time it catches my eye, I am reminded of the dragon in my own hero’s tale. And those dragons are adversity. 
I won’t sit and pretend that I’ve faced more adversity that any other person. I know that on many levels that I have lived a very good life, one of opportunities and many blessings. But even with these advantages, I’ve still had to overcome my fair share of adversity, mainly from myself. I have severe mental illnesses, and have for most of my life. Anxiety and depression have both been constant themes throughout my story, and the struggles that they have brought have almost broken me beyond repair. There were times where I believed that I wouldn’t be able to go on. But as fate or destiny has it, I’m still here. And I’m not ready to give up yet. 
Whenever I have to face any adversity in life, I don’t have a clear game plan or strategy for how I deal with it. I can become discouraged quite easily, and immediately have to reckon with my fair share of negative self-talk. My mind will race at a mile a minute, a habit that I am trying my best to change as I get older. The only thing I know how to do is carry on and survive, even if it’s painful. I may make mistakes along the way and consider giving up, but I keep pressing on. It’s not the bravest or flashiest way to face adversity, but it’s the one that I know how to do best. 
So back to the original quote: “if you banish the dragons, you banish the heroes”. After going over the quote in my head a countless number of times, I think I may finally have an answer as to what it means. In fantasy epics dragons are a clear example of adversity that heroes must overcome in order to save the day. They inspire fear and destruction, and if they are not stopped, all hope is lost. If heroes want their fairy tale happy endings, they must defeat the adversity that stands before them. The same can be said for our own lives. It’s impossible not to face adversity: eventually it will always come. And while we can’t stop it, we can choose to face it and how we respond. We are stronger than whatever comes to defeat us. And even if we don’t get it right away, eventually we will. 
Would life just be better if we didn’t have to face adversity at all? Well, I certainly think it would be easier. But something being easier does not equate to something directly being better. As the quote says, banishing the dragons means that the heroes have to go as well. If we have no adversity in our lives, then we miss out on our chance at being heroes. We may not be saving a kingdom from a fiery doom every day, but each of us has the power to be heroes in our own lives. And even us just choosing to not back down from our challenges in the first places makes us heroes. 
So I ask…will you be banished? 

(Artwork by Julia Kuo, juliakuo.com)

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