Write Your Own Story: Who Are You?--Part 3
When I sat down several months ago and starting pinning down the words for my post Write Your Own Story, I had no intentions of making it into a series; however, that's exactly what it's turned into. Fresh off a marital separation, working a dead-end job, and living in a city where I really didn't know anyone, it marked the beginning of writing a new story for my life. A few weeks ago I sat down and wrote a follow-up to that post, somewhat of a summary of where I had come from in just a few short months. I got such a great response to it, I felt inclined to write this third post. Who are you? Are you a traveler? Maybe an entrepreneur? A banker, writer, or photographer? You're certainly a friend, a son or daughter, and probably a brother or sister. You're single, taken, a friend with benefits, married, in an open relationship, or my favorite, "it's complicated". Who am I? I'm a brother, son, divorcee, traveler, writer, blogger. How do we know? Well, because Facebook tells us. Right? What before, took three dates to find out about someone, now takes two minutes. But is this really who we are?
Think about a few of your favorite movies that first come to your mind and the protagonist in each. A few that come to my mind include the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Star Wars, Inception, Spy Game, and Schindler's List. Some of the main actors include Elijah Wood, Mark Hammill, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Redford, and Liam Neeson. What were their job titles? Marital status? Hobbies? Income? Number of siblings? Odds are, that unless you've seen it recently, you're probably not going to nail these questions on the head. Sure you'll be in the ballpark, but you're not going to be able to pinpoint the answers to these questions. So what can you pinpoint? Well you can pinpoint what they did; the thing that thrust them into the story and makes them a protagonist. They destroyed evil powers, changed the course of events, and saved lives from execution. Not only that, but you can pinpoint how they did it. That's because it's the things they did, and not the labels put on them, that are the makeup of who they are in these stories.
So who are you really? What would people say about you if I asked them. "That Bob, he's an ok guy. He works a 9-5 office job and goes to CarMax every Saturday afternoon to test drive BMWs he'll never be able to own." Is that what you want people to say? Listen to me when I say that the things you do today, will be who you and the world will be tomorrow.
While I don't always post things every time I get on Facebook and Twitter, sometimes I just like to get on there and see what people are saying. One thing I'm tired of seeing is people who say "If only I could..." or "I wish...". Stop moping around and replace "I wish" with "I will". And if you sit there and tell me: that you're too old, have a family, or are tied down to a home and job, I'm going to respond: "Fine, keep living vicariously through others and stick to your boring life." Because the world's boring right? I'm also going to tell you that while you're living vicariously through others and not doing what you want in life, to follow the lives of Donna Hull, Keith Savage, Barbara Weibel, Chris Guillebeau, Charyn Pfeuffer, and Sherry Ott; of whom could have used those excuses and many more, but decided they were going to live their dreams. I wanted to make sure to include some people that aren't just travel writers/bloggers, but also a couple names that are incorporating other things, like being in business for themselves and volunteering.
The world has brought us to a place where our lives have never been so public. With Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and many other technological advances, our lives are under a microscope. People are watching you, and not just in a big brother kind of way. People want a reason to hope, be inspired, and do things that are bigger than themselves. And if you won't do it, who will? I don't know the origin of the quote, but Russell Crowe's quote from Gladiator couldn't be anymore true: "what we do in life, echoes in eternity".
So what are people saying about me? I don't know. However, I do know that I've started on the right path, one that I think will define who I am for years to come. I hope that in the future, what people say about me will reflect that of travel and doing good, because those are the kinds of things I want to be involved in. While it's not travel for everyone, find that thing that it is for you. Whether it's having kick ass parenting skills, volunteering, diplomacy, or starting your own business, be that change and person you want to be to the world. But do these things because it's what you want, and not so that you'll die a legend, please a spouse, or follow in the footsteps of a parent. Too many people have lived and died miserable lives because they were living the life someone else wanted for them, and not the life they wanted.
While I mentioned some of the things I hate about Twitter and Facebook, I failed to mention the things I love. With each passing day I see more and more people talking about how they're taking their lives into their own hands to do something much greater than themselves. They may not at that moment be living their passions and dreams, but at least they're making the effort and plans to. I've talked with many people recently, who it took a few trial runs to figure things out. Maybe it was traveling for a month or starting a blog that got the wheels moving.
What story are you writing for your life? I hope it's one that is defined by experiences and not labels. Maybe you're already doing it; and if so, I would love to hear about it. For you, maybe you're living your dream of being a mother or an engineer. Like I said, it doesn't have to be the same path I've taken. Either way, I hope that down the road I can share a pint with many of you and talk about how we're writing our own story, on our terms and loving every moment of it.
Photo of me courtesy of Kirsten Alana.
Victor Hugo photo quote from Huong V on Flickr.