Heroes are not made overnight, not even in the comics. It takes more than being bit by a radioactive spider to harness your full potential. Even if you magically gained super strength without lifting a pound of weights, you would still need to take the time to learn how to use it. Every one of the real life superheroes who took up the role of first responder during the pandemic had to spend several years in preparation before being able to answer the call. This is true for every heroic endeavor.
That said, not all worthwhile careers require a 4-year degree.. This is good news because in the States, a formal education is still a big-ticket item that not everyone can afford. There are many paths to success. But if you want to be one of those brave few that stand between harm and humanity on a regular basis, you are going to have to reach a little higher and stretch yourself a little more. Here are a handful of careers worthy of a cape, but thankfully, don’t require one:
If you want to be in the hero business and are within range of middle America find one of those world class occupational therapy colleges in Illinois. If you want to be a professional that works with people who suffer from Alzheimer’s, autism, the loss of limbs or other disabilities, consider going the distance in a top-tier program.
Disease and deformity can leave a person feeling like an outcast and somewhat less than fully human. The disabled are often treated like second-class citizens. They have a lot to overcome. That’s where heroes come in. There are the ones who do the research that becomes life-giving surgical procedures that other heroes can perform. Some work exclusively with the blind and deaf in the role of rehabilitation specialist. Others serve as occupational therapists.
People with disabilities have different needs. Some just need a ride to the grocery store on occasion while others have to relearn everything about how to get through the day. When you choose to devote your life to bringing a sense of normality to people with disabilities, you are entering one of the most heroic professions of them all.
We didn’t need the pandemic to inform us that teachers are heroes. That didn’t stop the pandemic from driving that lesson home, anyway. It isn’t just the students at risk in the classroom. It is the teachers who are often older and have preexisting conditions. They also have to acquire and learn the new technologies necessary for remote teaching. They have to do it on a teacher’s salary. As we all know, that is not very much.
Every day, teachers are asked to do more with less. Their day to day doesn’t feel very heroic or rewarding. It is a higher calling for people who can always focus on the big picture. Not one doctor, physicist, or politician has done a world-altering deed without a teacher.
We already have plenty of businesses that exist with a focus on profit, or stock price, or products, or market share. But there are precious few businesses that exist for the sole purpose of benefiting humanity. Even a bad person can produce a successful and profitable business that benefits the wealthy. But it takes a hero to dedicate a business to helping everyone else.
Consider running a business that employs as many people as possible even if it might be more efficient to replace most of them with machines. Consider paying a living wage with health benefits. Consider including a daycare so that, literally, no child is left behind. Consider not becoming the biggest or most profitable business, but the most valuable business to your community. That is heroism worthy of a cape.
You don’t have to rule the world to change it for the better. Whether you choose to be an occupational therapist, a teacher, or a people-focused entrepreneur, you will be a hero - the hero we all deserve and need.