The anxiety of the first threshold: what happens now?

Finally, often reluctantly, Heroes are forced to commit to the Adventure and crossing the first threshold is where this happens. There are now foreign, unfamiliar aspects to your life; new people, new situations, new demands. What to do?

For those with an unwanted Call to Adventure, there may still be little in the way of motivation, yet for the first time, heroes begin to understand there is little chance of returning to their life as it was.  Trying to go back will only add to the suffering.  Heroes now cross into unfamiliar territory.  They don’t know it yet, but they are stepping into a new life.  But at this stage, this new territory is scary, lacklustre and daunting.  It’s often the last place reluctant heroes want to be.  

Crossing the first Threshold can feel like being pushed over the edge of a cliff or finding yourself alone in a strange landscape.  Life is about to become a series of facing more and more unknowns.

First crossings often happen with the conviction that you simply can’t do what is required.
You are about to discover that your conviction is completely wrong.

Crossing the Threshold
Rae finds herself in completely foreign situations which at first, she has little idea of what to.

Crossing the first threshold is the beginning of the INITIATION phase of any Hero’s Journey. Remember what an INITIATION is? It’s a bunch of tests to see if you are worthy, committed to joining the group, the tribe, the organisation, the elite.

First Thresholds can take a million different forms.  Depending on whether your Call to Adventure was intentional or unwanted, Crossing the first Threshold can vary from feeling excitement to dread. Crossing the Threshold on an Intentional Adventure may be the first day of a new job, the first day of moving in with someone, or the first day of commencing study or opening your business.  

For unwanted Calls, the First Crossing may be the first day after losing your job.  It may be the the doctor’s surgery where you first hear your diagnosis, your first day in rehab or your first day after separating from your partner.  Whether your Call to Adventure was intentional or unwanted, all thresholds are scary but doorways to a new life chapter.

The INITIATION phase requires heroes to do things they don’t want to do, don’t know how to do and are not sure they can do.

Read more about the psychology of the Initiation here.

Crossing the First threshold

Leaving home marks the beginning of the next chapter of your life and finding your way, figuring it out, will involve many tests, many obstacles but all these tests are a necessary INITIATION into the world of being an adult.

crossing the first threshold to arrive in a new country
Arriving in a new country is a threshold to a new life

crossing the first threshold
Kathrine Switzer crossed a male threshold being the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon in 1967

Click here to return to the 12 Stages of the Hero’s Journey


  1. Ever found yourself in a place where everyone and everything seems foreign?  What did you do? Run home? Take breath? Call someone for help?
  2. Have you ever been waiting, wanting someone or something else to change and then realised the only thing you could change is you?
  3. First crossings are where heroes begin to learn POLAR OPPOSITE SKILLS (e.g., being independent rather than dependant, owning mistakes instead of blaming others, speaking up instead of being quiet, facing people instead of avoiding them).  Are you learning your new polar opposite skills or resisting?
  4. What opposite skills do you think you need to learn? (e.g. are you obedient when you really need to disobey, do you dominate when you really need to collaborate, are you self-focused rather than focused on your relationships with others?)

Want to see more? Stage 6