Alice's Hero Story

July 14, 2016

Alice's Hero Story

There have been no shortage of heroes in my life because I love stories so much. Throw a rock into fictional waters, and you're bound to hit one. I could have written about any number of them, but I found myself circling back to one of my oldest childhood loves - unicorns. Specifically, the last unicorn.

That's probably not what you were expecting, but the unicorn of The Last Unicorn is one of my heroes because she finds the courage to venture alone into the world in search of her kind when she hears she's the last. She doesn't know what she'll find, but she leaves her safe lilac wood anyway and is changed despite being unchangeable. Deep stuff for a kid to understand, but something about it resonated with me because from the first time I watched her story on VHS as a child, I loved her.

The unicorn came to me again in college when I was feeling a little unmoored being away from home and my closest friends. I found her in her original form in a book and was moved anew by the story because I understood it better. What made the unicorn heroic, even more than her decision to go into the unknown, was her risking herself - making herself vulnerable to change and loss even if it was more than she could've predicted. She got through her fear and faced challenges with grace, and at the end, she carried the burden of loss but also acknowledged the value of that experience. She would forever be unlike other unicorns but that was okay, too.

I think it's that often unsung kind of courage that felt very real to me and reminded me of the real life heroes I'm lucky enough to know - like my grandmother. She lived through World War II and a wartime occupation, got married, and had six kids whom she raised to take care of each other. If that wasn't enough indication of her mettle, she - like many immigrants before and after her - uprooted herself from the only land and life she's ever known to settle in a foreign place.

My grandma gave up the convenience and comfort of her homeland and native tongue to go into the unknown for the sake of her kin. She crossed an ocean to be with her children and to help them raise theirs, despite what it might cost her. I am constantly impressed by the enormity of that decision - to leave her home, knowing she might never go back and that she'd have to adapt to a new place that wasn't always welcoming. I strive to be as resilient and compassionate as she is. And like the unicorn, my grandma has known deep loss, but she still manages to care for our family and be an anchor when we need it, showing up at the right moments and reminding me that strength and heroes take different forms. It's not always obvious, and it's not always what you might expect.

You can follow Alice at @Kangaru and her blog A Nudge In The Right Direction

We want to hear your Hero Story! Submit one at

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.