Have you ever looked at someone you admired and fully believed that they had something you didn’t? Maybe a sense of grace under pressure, an understanding of how things should be, or a way of letting go and allowing life to take them on a ride?
I vividly remember the first time I really asked a man I admired how he got to where he was. We were sitting in his office, the window open to the late May sun that hinted at a Midwest summer on the horizon. I was antsy, as I often was as a college student, always thinking about and moving towards the next thing.
He sat in his big black swivel chair, turned back towards me, then once more to look at the pictures on his wall. Unbeknownst to me, he was in the middle of a divorce—a messy one—with love for both his wife and his work pulling him in two different directions.
He was a published author, someone I respected and saw—with his sarcasm, quick wit, and silly facial expressions—as a spitting image (in male form) of who I wanted to be.
I sat on the edge of my seat, glancing over the rows and rows of books on his shelf.
“Margaret Atwood,” he said, seeing my eyes rest on a blue book with a woman who resembled a mermaid floating across the cover. “Your poetry is reminiscent. You’d like her.”
With one swift movement, he pulled the book of the shelf and handed it to me. “Keep it. Now what did you want to ask me?”
He leaned comfortably back in my chair. At that moment I distinctly remember wondering what it would be like to be him—to have what looked like the entire world at your fingertips. He had books in print, a professor job at a university where he was given freedom to both write and teach, a family who loved him, and a spirit of positivity that seemed unmatched.
The funny thing was, when I got to asking him about how he had gotten to where he was, he smiled and simply said, “You’re already there.”
The power to become the woman and writer I wanted to be—it was already within me. The ‘success’ I wanted? That was relative, dependent upon how I wanted to see the accomplishments and joys already around me. And the ability to be ‘strong’ at my craft? That all began in trusting my voice, even in the draft.
I remember leaving his office renewed. For the longest time I was measuring myself up to everyone around me, trying to find my way, find my melody in everyone else’s song. I was so focused on comparison, so focused on the ways I wasn’t, rather than all I already was.
I was so worried about my imperfect words, I forgot the power of letting my voice speak first, letting it find its natural rhythm with the world’s song.
Life is filled with so many moments where we question, simply because we’re not sure where we stand. Instead of recognizing that our patterns and paths are different, we stress over ways we’re fitting into the notes around us instead of building our own music.
We think we’re supposed to have this all figured out, that there will be this place where everything just makes perfect sense. But it won’t.
Life is a journey, an ever-changing song. We’re all trying to hear the sounds, carve our own notes, and create a harmony among the chords.
Our purpose here is not to stress over where we fit, but understand that the music we are and create is not meant to stay the same. As everything changes, so does our rhythm.
And we find and build ourselves over and over again.
Featured Image Credit: Katy Belcher