There is a stirring quote by children’s book author Mo Willems:
“If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.”
I sat with this quote for a good stretch the other day. At first glance, it put pressure on my faith in providence, foisting unwieldy weight on the slack-then-taut boundary between fate and agency. Over time, I have come to the view that “God laughs when we make plans” but that I must make them anyhow, must muscle my heart and energy and intelligence to attempt to live an ethical, thoughtful, loving life as if I am going it alone, without a safety net beneath or marked trail ahead. I wouldn’t know how else to proceed. Still, life has proven time and time again that “you may not see it today or tomorrow, but you will look back in a few years and be absolutely perplexed and awed by how every little thing added up and brought you somewhere wonderful–or where you always wanted to be.” (More on that spectacular quote here, though now I might humbly propose the adjustment: “…where you always needed to be.” Most times, my needs eclipse my wants–and for the better.)
There is something powerful in thinking about these words from the perch of an author, dipping the concept into the realm of the narrative. Storytelling is a part of life. In some ways, it is life. Whether we are applying for jobs or pitching our businesses or making friends in the carpool line, we are telling stories about ourselves, drawing lines between dots scattered far and wide across our pasts that, without the force of our own conviction and the penmanship we wield, would remain, well, just scattered dots, some of them fading permanently into oblivion. We control the story. We determine which elements stand in the foreground and which recede. We choose the words, too: “I am a writer,” I say. But I could just as easily reply that I am “a working mom” or “an entrepreneur” or “a blogger” or any number of other permutations of the career I have chosen for myself. There have been times, though, where I have not felt such control over my own story and have instead absorbed the ones others have written about me. In my teens, I was all academics — though “not a numbers person,” which, as it turns out, is a story I told myself that was not true. Even though I was interested in other pursuits, I would not have admitted them. I was an excellent student first, and nothing else felt seemly to mention. In my early 20s, I remember feeling as though I had to live up to the expectations of a certain group of friends who saw me as a polite girly-girl. Now, I am polite, and I am a girly-girl, and I was generally flattered by the portrait that they had painted — but I felt myself strangely censored in their presence. I felt I could not admit to liking certain music, or laugh at certain jokes, or air certain grievances. In other phases of my life, I have felt beholden to only reading certain types of literature, worried my secret obsession with thrillers would expose me as a fraud in the pursuit of a career in academia. These are admittedly trivial manifestations of the many ways in which the stories other people tell about us — or, at least, the ones we think they do — can govern our actions. I have witnessed more nefarious examples in the lives of friends who have felt stuck in bad situations at the hands of others. And so I know that it is rarely as simple as realizing you are in the wrong story, and leaving. But the imperative remains, if you need to hear it this morning, or any morning for that matter. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald: “It’s never too late…to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing…I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
How’s that for big Wednesday morning energy?
Go get ’em, Magpies. Let’s write ourselves out of the wrong stories.
+In media res: memories of studying abroad in college.
+Currently in the market for convertible carseats for my children. I had been planning on buying Cleks which seemed to me la creme de la creme — super narrow, strong safety reviews, and very stylish IMO. However, I have been coming across so many great reviews of the Nuna Rava, and I conducted an informal poll on Instagram and people LOVE this carseat. Apparently you can totally remove the cover of the seat and throw it in the washing machine, which is basically the best news ever. I also like that people say it works well for tall children — both of mine are on the tall side. Now I’m undecided! There were also a handful of strong reviews for Maxi Cosi and Diono, but I would say 90% of feedback was ECSTATIC about the Rava.
+Cute birthday dress for a little lady for $36 — perfect for sending her into school on the day of!
+Mais j’adore these woven loafers!
+Oh my goodness, this dress is just speaking to me. Dig the cut, print, length…YES.
+This floral dress (on super sale) reminds me of a mix between an HH nap dress (I own like six at this point) and Emilia Wickstead’s Giovanna dress style (which I own in a different print and am wearing to my son’s birthday party this weekend). In other words, I love it!