A little green optimist who we all know and love once said “Life’s like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.” The message is easy to love and understand. But applying it in real life, going after what you want and charting your own course, well, that isn’t so easy. And it should be the easiest thing in the world, loving yourself enough to achieve your happiest place, right?
I am nearing 40. It’s not that I am uptight about the number. If anything, I approach it with a sense of pride (I say that now, I may flip out on the day I officially leave my 30’s behind). Nearing this milestone, my mindset is all about looking back on the time I have had, how I have taken it for granted, thinking I had forever. And then there are the dreams not yet realized. This is where finding my happy place comes in.
Looking back, I was a happy teenager, as far as teenagers go. No really, I was. Parent drama and hormones and emotions aside, I was content. Despite my young age, I knew what I was good at and I enjoyed it. I wrote dozens of short stories, and started several novels. And it was all so easy. Ideas and sentences came to me like it was nothing. I would be a future darling of the literary world, with my name atop the NY Times best seller list. I envisioned my name in lights, and the rise of my media empire. I would stand in front of the mirror and “rehearse” my acceptance speeches. The Oscar for Best Original Screenplay? You better believe it! The Pulitzer and Nobel for Literature? Why the hell not?
Everything seemed possible.
Over twenty years have passed. Along the way, my writing, and the hopes and dreams hitched to it, went by the wayside. My manuscripts went up on the shelf, unfinished. Because there simply wasn’t enough time for them, and they weren’t important anymore. At least that is what I told myself. Before I knew it, college classes made way for the 40+ hour work week, and with adult life came adult responsibilities. So there I was, not miserable, certainly happy, but all along feeling like something was missing. And it took me until about a year ago to realize what that something was.
My father recently passed away. When the raw emptiness subsides, it makes way for perspective and taking stock of your life. Since he left this world I constantly think about what it means to really, truly live happy, and on my terms. I am starting to understand. I believe you start by pinpointing whatever helps you find yourself again. Because we all have a life to get to, and we don’t have forever to do it.
For me, the “whatever” is awakening that creative voice gone neglected for far too long. It is not about spinning an elaborate piece of fiction, but it can be. It can be anything I want it to be. Kermit is right. Life is like a movie, and we write our own individual script.
The hardest part is giving yourself that kick in the butt. To figure out how to get unstuck. I am an ordinary woman who happens to have extraordinary dreams, with challenges and blessings and responsibilities just like everyone else. And I believe, above all, everyone deserves to achieve those dreams. So while finding the courage to get what I want has proven to be the toughest part of this journey, it isn’t impossible. I just have to love myself enough.
I have lowered the lofty expectations of my teenage years. I don’t expect any significant level of success and everyone to know my name, but if it happens, I will embrace it. My manuscripts may have gone unfinished, but they were never forgotten. And that is everything. My heart, and your heart, deserve to sing. And what a beautiful sound it will be.