As I sat down to write this, I heard footsteps in the hallway echoing near my apartment door. As they got closer, so did the familiar melody we all could never forget, even if we tried. It was the infamous “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.
The question is, when did we stop? When did we stop believing that we can be, do, or have anything in this life? We’ve never forgotten the song, but we’ve certainly forgotten the principle. We’ve become a society that stopped believing.
I have been many things and I am none of those things now because, in my life experience, I have expanded, as we all do. And somewhere along the way, I embraced a new idea and belief that because life is fluid, I could be too. I realized I was allowed to change and adapt and transform who I was in the midst of who I was becoming. I’d always questioned the constructs of societal pressures and the ludicrous expectation that comes with us supposedly knowing exactly who and what we want to be fresh out of high school. We’re just ripe enough in the world to barely understand ourselves, yet here we are, forced to declare a major and choose a profession that we will have for the rest of our lives? This kind of permanence scares me. Where exactly is this rule written, anyway?
I’ve never been one to conform. Since then, I’ve had my hands in all kinds of random things, especially the times I had changed my mind about who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. I won’t say I was lost, because we never are, but I was wandering. I’ve been a waitress and a bartender. I’ve cleaned strangers’ houses and even took some desk job where I had absolutely no Idea what I was doing half the time (I quit in the middle of a meeting, because even though I tried to like staring at a cubicle all day, I hated it with all of my being). I’ve never been one to pretend. I’ve never been someone who can bear to do something for the money when I find myself somewhere that silences my soul or dims my lust for life. I never belonged in an office or in the corporate world, and as much as this is pushed on us, I was tired of trying to fit into a mold that didn’t fit me at all. So why not create my own?
I’ll never again be in something that feels like it is sucking the life out of my soul. I truly used to believe that my life would get significantly boring after college because I adhered to a belief that was never mine to begin with. I swear, someone used to say to me all the time growing up, “It’s all downhill after 30.”
Is that supposed to be a joke? What do we have to look forward to if our lives continuously decline after 30? This only made me fear the idea of getting older instead of embracing it. But even still, I didn’t buy it then, and I certainly don’t buy it now as I approach 33.
The part that matters here, is that you don’t have to adopt the beliefs of others. The part that matters is that life is what you make it, and in order to live out the life I wanted for myself, I simply had to change my mind about it. And now?
My belief is that life gets better and better. My belief is that life continues to surprise me. My belief is that life is but one big ass adventure, and I can live my life any way I desire that feels good to my insides. I can promise you won’t be seeing me with a baby on my hip anytime soon, considering I still find myself needing space from my dog and would rather buy flights than furniture.
I’ve swam topless in oceans half a planet away from here in the bluest waters you’ve ever seen. I’ve skinny dipped under the light of a million stars in the clear waters of the Caribbean at midnight and sneaked off into the darkness with the one that I loved for a quickie in a beachside dressing room. I’ve danced in island rain storms barefoot when others ran for shelter. I’ve lived and fallen in love with new places where no one even knew my name.
To me, that’s living.
I’ve been a successful interior designer and wedding photographer, neither of which I am anymore because something else began to call me towards it. So here I am, amidst the freedom to change my mind yet again about what I want out of this life.
That’s the fluidity that I crave. That’s being able to decide that maybe those things were for me at the time but aren’t anymore, and now I am a painter—I paint with words.
The moral of this story is that life was never meant to be deflating or stationary. I can’t wrap my head around the idea that any of us were put here to work 40 hours a week doing something we absolutely hate. I can’t fathom the millions of souls who go home after work and dread the days ahead or live solely for the weekends because they feel as though they don’t have a choice in the matter. That is nothing but believing a lie sold to us before we had an opportunity to know any better—before we had an opportunity to decide for ourselves.
So the belief that we have to stay the same and do the same thing forever because we’ve always done it is just remaining in a cycle. And sometimes, we have to break out and away from the things that no longer breathe life into our lungs. We are allowed to change. We are allowed to adapt. We are allowed to expand and stretch and flow with life, rather than against it, just to stay in some mundane routine.
Now’s the time for reinvention. Now’s the time to wake up to the possibility that life is meant to be lived, and I know it sounds crazy, but we’re meant to love our lives and be endlessly happy within them, whatever that means to each of us. Maybe now’s the time to forgo a new idea that just because you chose it then doesn’t mean you have to choose it now, especially if it doesn’t light your soul on fire. I want to be an example in this world of someone who went for it, despite the articles written by writers about how hard it is to be a writer. That’s cool and all, but if that’s what I was put on this earth to do—if that is my calling—then my plan is bulletproof, and all I need is a little trust and inspiration.
Don’t you think it would be the same for you? What is your divine purpose here? Have you asked yourself lately? I encourage you to. Because I believe in a world where people are living out their passions and fulfilling dreams. I believe in a world filled with humans who have awakened to new ideas of what life could look like. We’re constantly given opportunities to recreate ourselves, and the lie is that we never have a choice in that. The truth is that we always have a choice, and that is breathtakingly beautiful, isn’t it? The true gift is freedom—the freedom to choose and the freedom to be whoever you want to be.
But the question that still remains is: When did we stop believing? When did we stop believing in ourselves and in the magic that is this life? When did we stop believing in our own power? I know the kind of world I want to live in, and if it doesn’t exist, I’ll create it myself. But above anything else, I want to see people besotted with the life that is in front of them. I want people intoxicated by their own life experience so much that it becomes an epidemic. You want a changed world? Gandhi was spot on—you have to be the change first.
Here’s to doing that.