“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m going to tell you a secret.
Anyone who tells you they know what they’re doing in life is lying.
It took me three decades and a lot of self-reflection (read: panic) to come to this conclusion, but it’s true. The greatest secret of adulthood is that we’re all just making it up as we go along. None of us really know what the future holds—we can’t secure anyone or anything from the world, despite our best intentions to do so. Sometimes, bad things happen, and all that’s left is to muddle through.
But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. It’s what we do when we’re faced with the unknown that makes us individuals. Viktor Frankl, a brilliant psychiatrist and a survivor of several Nazi concentration camps, said that when a man is stripped of all physical autonomy, he is left only with the ability to “choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
So why do so many of us expend so much energy worrying about how our choices will be received by others? As a creative this is double-edged—we want our audience to enjoy our work, so there’s the temptation to only give them what they want in conflict with our own needs.
I challenge you, my dear readers, to stop giving credence to the voice within you that says that the tastes of those around you take precedence over your own creativity. If we’re all making it up as we go along, why not make up a story you enjoy telling?