I don’t believe in doing something “different” just to defy the norm, but I have come to a new place in life where I’m painfully aware of the paths or actions I’ve taken simply because they are the ones I’ve observed. In some cases I was told, expected, or just plain followed what seemed safe.
Go to college, get a “good” job, get married, have a baby… Live happily ever after. Check, check, check, uh…Pass.
And the alternate ending can be intermixed with: Do this in any order, dread Mondays, live for vacation, partake in community misery and grumble over your job / boss / wife / how no one gets you.
My parents had thoughts of who they wanted me to be and the life they assumed I’d lead. Of course, they wanted the best for me, and sending me down a path of risk, uncertainty, and unconventionality is not something that would have made either sleep well at night.
“Don’t get close to the water”, “Don’t touch the electrical wires”, “Don’t eat the cat food”. (I know, strange kid.)
“That job is commission only?“, “You need a man to take care of you”, “You want to quit your good job?!”
In every chapter where I went off-script, they winced, sometimes pleaded, usually nodded in disapproval. This dissonance made me question actions I took: Should I not? Would I be making a mistake to improvise, to rip out a few pages, to ad lib?
So I did it… Or rather, at least I started that script. And sans the children, I lived these chapters.
But what happens when your heart tells you to go off script?
I’ve asked myself: Am I normal? Am I just rebelling? Or is there another script, a choose-your-own-ending, a different Master Plan that’s in store? And what happens if I never follow that script?
BUT, my fear screamed back, this is what I’m good at. This is my identity. This life is full of badges I’ve earned and checkboxes I’ve clicked that define me. Didn’t I get here by doing what I was “supposed to”?
What happens when you decide you want to tear up the script?
I find a blank piece of paper exhilarating. A new note on Evernote. An empty warehouse space. A white wall. What magic could be drawn/created/birthed if we allow ourselves a chance to start over?
It doesn’t have to mean hitting the reset button on your life, it can start with allowing yourself to consider and to try. Or perhaps adapting your screenplay and choosing to re-write the remainder of the chapters.
Giving up the title of narrator or main character, and taking on the role of screenwriter. Cutting the societally-accepted marionette strings and taking your own first bold step forward.
It doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s story.
If you chose to begin a new chapter or even a new novel today, what would that look like?
Would you pursue that new career path?
Would you take your ideas seriously?
Would you open yourself to love and stop the cautiousness heartbreak has embedded?
Would you write the book?
Would you say what you really meant?
Would you try?
I’ve decided to take the leap. After standing on the edge longingly peering over the cliff far too long, after architecting my so-called safety net a hundred different ways and wondering if it could catch me…I dove without knowing.
I believe the best stories come from improv. My entire life has been it’s own rehearsal, and while there are no guarantees, my heart has never felt more free.
As tomorrow is never guaranteed, that extreme wake-up reminded me to pursue what makes me happy, not just what makes me money.
Yeah, change is scary. Uncertainty can be overwhelming. But far worse is the looking back on a life of maybe-what if-should have-unfulfilled-unattempted-could have been’s. The “things we didn’t do”.
I invite you to follow along in my new script, but more importantly, to question: Who’s been writing yours.