Sunday 31 May 2015

Be the heroine of your own story

Have you ever imagined your life as a movie? Not so much in the sense of who would play you in a movie, but you watching a movie that is about your life. When it comes to movies, you know that the quirkier the characters, the better the movie is. You don't want to see a completely average person doing average things; you want to see mishaps, triumphs, heartbreak, a love story, mistakes, successes, emotions. 
The hero(ine) has to encounter adversity, because in the end they always come out of it stronger than they were before. They are often misunderstood and alone for a stretch. But they always do what they have to do, because otherwise they couldn't live with themselves. 

Being true to who you are isn't easy. First, you have to figure out who the heck that person is - it's a lot harder than it seems. We are influenced by so many outside sources: parents, siblings, friends, teachers, the media, books, movies. With all these voices loud in our ears it is extremely difficult to hear our own little one. 

When I was a child, my parents signed me up for music lessons, and that decision shaped my life for 20+ years to come. I always played some sort of instrument, be it the flute, piano, or organ.  
I didn't question it, because I didn't hate it; with a lot of practice, I was halfway decent. But I didn't love it. It wasn't a joy, it was a burden; and it took me until I was 33 years old before I quit for good. 

Life is precious and short. There are so many things I want to do, that I decided I couldn't afford to spend so much time on something I didn't really enjoy. 
I haven't regretted it for a second. I also haven't picked up an instrument in a year and a half, because I don't miss it at all. It definitely was the right decision - so why did it take me so freakishly long to get there? 
Because of the label. I got labelled being the girl with the "musical talent" early on, and it stuck. There were people expecting me to be that person (my parents, the people at church where I performed regularly, even my husband), and I didn't want to disappoint them. But it never felt right; the label was like the too-small dress you buy with the intention of fitting into one day, but you secretly know you never will. 

Whenever I have a decision to make, or I am contemplating to try something that scares me, I imagine myself 50 years from now, sitting in a rocking chair, reflecting back on my life. Will future-me have to look back, shake her head sadly and tell the dogs surrounding her: "I wish I wouldn't have cared what other people thought of me; I wish I would have taken that chance." Or will future-me smile down fondly at her dogs, stroke their heads and tell them: "I was one bad-ass chick who made her own rules and lived life to the fullest!"

As soon as I get to that scene, I usually go for it. How could I not?

Many of us are afraid to be different. We want to blend in, be like our peers, have things in common with them so we feel part of the group. 
Here is the thing though: The people that are arbitrarily in our daily lives shouldn't define us. Fellow students, co-workers, or neighbours aren't people we chose purposely; they just happen to be there.
If we are lucky, we will find a select few who we really connect with; but with most of them we won't. 
However, we let a random group of people influence our happiness and our life every day. Why? Because we so desperately want to fit in.      

Here is where we have to be the heroes in our own story: we have to find out who we really are. 

What it is that makes you so giddy with excitement you can't help but jump around, huge stupid-grin on your face? What makes your heart beat faster just thinking about? If you feel like you don't have anything like that, think back to the time when you were a child. We all had things like that. Maybe it was making jewellery with your girlfriends. Banging away on the cheap drum set you begged your parents so relentlessly for they finally gave in. Maybe it was reading books, playing basketball, singing along to the radio, learning how to knit. 

Whatever it was, re-discover it. Find out what makes you uniquely you. And then, embrace it. Don't feel ashamed of who you are. You love to cook and bake, but you feel you shouldn't do it because you are not a size-6 skinny? Screw it! Creating and enjoying food is one of life's greatest pleasures, and being good at it is something many aspire to but fail. Be proud of it! 

Here is a secret: Every single person is insecure in some way. The ones who look like they have it all together? They don't. They are just good at pretending.  

Looking different, choosing an unconventional lifestyle or making different choices to the people around you will set you apart. Maybe it will make you feel alone, misunderstood, or lonely. 
But here is the thing: Just because you don't have people who are similar to you in your daily life doesn't mean they don't exist. They do! You just have to look for them.

These days, with the internet at our fingertips, we are not restricted to the people in our immediate surroundings any more. You can join book clubs, writing groups, gyms, yoga classes, sports teams, chess clubs - or start a blog. ;-) Whatever it is you are looking for, it is out there. You just have to know what it is you are looking for, and you will find it.

So what are you waiting for? Be the heroine of your own story, and make it a good one!



  1. Miriam!!! This is a WONDERFUL post!! All so true and expressed so well!!

  2. Oh, how I needed this reminder this morning. Funny thing, I've heard this message {I believe from the Lord} in many different forms over the past few weeks and your transparent thoughts just confirmed in my mind some things I need to do, and let go.
    P.S. I'm even including it in my How-to Weekly Edition blog. :)

    Thanks and blessings,
    The How-to Guru

  3. I just loved this post. I love the analogy of the "too-small dress" and not doing what we don't really love just for others' sake. I want to be the heroine in my own life story too, and sometimes it's scary to think we're not living up to our own potential. Thank you for this reminder!

  4. This line: But it never felt right; the label was like the too-small dress you buy with the intention of fitting into one day, but you secretly know you never will. I love it.
    Great message! Have you seen The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet? There is a similar line in it where this wise old guy tells Kate's character that she "deserves to be the leading lady in her own life."

  5. I love this--when you're your own hero, you really see who you are. Loooove.

  6. Thanks M! All this came straight from my heart, I didn't have to think long about it, the words just flowed out. I love when that happens!

  7. Oh wow, thank you so much! I'm so happy if some of my words helped you make a decision in your life. I hope you found peace with it!

  8. You're welcome! It's so easy to slide into routines without much thinking about it, and get used to doing things we don't really like doing. But pretty much everything can be changed, and it's good to reflect once in a while what it is that we want to with with our one and only life!

  9. Yes I have, quite some time ago, but I don't consciously remember that line. Maybe my subconscious did? Or I read something along those lines somewhere (Pinterest?!), and it just popped into my head yesterday.
    Thinking about life and what to do with it is one of my most favourite things to do. I'm not sure why, but I'm always aware of time passing and the shortness of life, and I want to make sure I make the most of it! :-)

  10. That was my BIGGEST insecurity in the world Christina! Wanting to be "perfect", but always failing. I have always felt that I'm a little bit different, and had a difficult time accepting that. For a while, I tried to be someone I'm not, to fit in - but that left me feeling lonelier than ever. Accepting and loving yourself for who you are is the only way to lasting happiness! Good luck on your own journey, you will get there!

  11. Thanks Chelsea! I believe it's the only way be truly happy. :-)

  12. :) Here is the post in which I linked up to you in my How-to Weekly!

  13. Loved this post Miriam! I had a 'what am I doing with my life' crisis last year which took a lot of soul prodding and an online course ( if anyone is interested) to get me through, but I've come out the other side a far better heroine and agree that you have to do what is best for you and not just what is expected of you by others or yourself. I really love the rocking chair test - I might have to adopt that one. I want to be that bad-ass chick :)

  14. Thank you!! This is awesome! :-)

  15. I'm so glad you got through your crisis! As much as they suck, sometimes we need a little prodding to become better versions of ourselves. That course sounds interesting, I will take a look! Thanks for putting up the link!


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