“If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.”
If you asked someone to describe me, there are an array of colorful words that would be thrown around: loud, bubbly, inappropriate, bossy, etc. Overall, I try to be strong for my family, loyal and compassionate for my friends, and loving to myself.
During college, I decided to write down my plans for the future. My story. Who I wanted to be. Here is what I came up with:
I wanted to live in Los Angeles (it was New York but after dealing with Iowa winters I decided the California sunshine was more for me). I found my passion in advertising and wanted my life to be a real life episode of Man Men (minus the misogyny and smoking but definitely the cute outfits and good-looking men). I wanted to continue my writing in an environment that inspired me. Most of all, I wanted to be happy, to grow, to be challenged by the people and places around me.
After graduating college, I felt very lost. I didn’t have a job and I clung to a relationship I thought defined me. Slowly, the fire that once burned in me was being extinguished. The dreams I had during college disappeared as the fear of the unknown took over. If I wanted to live out these dreams, I had to give up the comfortable life I had and I didn’t know if I was strong enough to handle that.
Fast-forward a year later: I was working a job I didn’t enjoy. I was no longer confident in myself and became a shell of the person I used to be. I doubted every decision I made. It had been 6 months since I felt inspired to write. My friendships faded from lack of effort and I stayed in an unfaithful relationship because I was so weak I felt like I deserved it. The fire that once burned so brightly was completely gone. I didn’t even recognize who I had become.
One day I was cleaning out a drawer and I found the list I made. When I wrote that, I had real goals and aspirations. If college sophomore Emily met this Emily, she would have probably slapped her straight in the face. It was at that moment I realized I couldn’t live my life this way. This couldn’t be my story – something had to change.
A week later, I quit my job and decided to move home until I figured out my next step. Even though my plan was not clear at the time, the cloud that formed over my life slowly began to fade. I knew this decision would start the end of my relationship, but I couldn’t be in a situation that limited my potential and didn’t provide me with the happiness I deserved.
The next few months were hard. Every single morning I woke up, cried, and wondered if I made the right decision. There were some days I didn’t think I would survive, I persevered and remembered how strong I really was. Then each day, the sadness would slowly fade and I would find myself laughing and smiling like I used to. Until eventually, I found myself excited about my future rather than holding onto my past.
There are times now I still don’t know what I’m doing. I make mistakes every single day. But I can look in the mirror every morning and be proud of the person looking back at me. I am now writing my story the way it was meant to be written.
Don’t be afraid to rewrite,