When we hear stories about people who follow their passion and make their dreams come true, we often focus on the uplifting nature and beauty of the journey. Sometimes, it even appears as if the pieces simply fall into place once someone answers the call to follow their passion. The reality however, says Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, isn't always as idyllic.
Gilbert chronicled her yearlong quest of self-discovery in her bestselling memoir -- a journey that she tells Oprah was formed by the ups and downs that come with embarking on adventure into the unknown. For anyone else planning to do the same, Gilbert shares a critical piece of advice.
"If you're going to answer the call and you're going to transform and you're going to change, get ready," she says. "It is not a day at the beach."
Instead, there will be extremes, many of which will make you question your entire purpose. "Expect to be challenged," Gilbert says emphatically. "Expect to be hurt. Expect to feel lost. Expect to feel despair. Expect to be double-guessing yourself at every turn."
Author and scholar Joseph Campbell believed that these types of struggles are not unique to any one person and actually date back as far time. He spent his entire life studying the world's religious origins, fairytales, stories and myths in order to find common threads, and discovered that there's one basic pattern that always persists and repeats. Campbell called it "the hero's journey." In short, the structure is simple: A person gets called to the journey, goes through the road of trials, faces his teachers, faces the battle and loses his fear. Facing challenges is an inevitable part of the journey, during the stage Campbell called "the road of trials" -- and Gilbert says it's called that for a reason.
"They don't call it 'the road of trials' because it's a joy ride," she says. "Joseph Campbell called it 'the road of trials' because that's exactly what it is."
To help you stay on course through your own hero's journey, Gilbert explains that it is important to keep in mind why these extreme lows and treacherous obstacles exist.
"Every single one of those obstacles, challenges and temptations that you have to learn to manage will help you gain your talents and powers, and shed your fears," she says. "So that when it comes time for the climactic scene in every hero's journey, which is the battle, you're ready... Every single one of those obstacles prepared you for the battle."
After you've shed your fear, something incredible happens.
"Then," Gilbert says, "you become the hero."
The second part of Elizabeth Gilbert's conversation with Oprah airs on "Super Soul Sunday" this Sunday, Oct. 12, on OWN at 11 a.m. ET, during which it also streams live on Oprah.com, Facebook.com/owntv and Facebook.com/supersoulsunday.