What Stories Do You Tell Yourself?

We are born with stories written on our palms, future laugh and frown lines etched into our tiny cheeks. Ancient wisdom and foolishness coursing through our veins; our hearts destined to break and do the breaking. We come into the world as unfinished stories.

We grow; we are molded. We act; we observe. We listen to the narrative of mom’s laugh and dad’s opinions, we watch each part played out and during the intermission, in line for concessions, we decide who we are.

Every day onward, the world tells us what to do. What we can’t do, what’s important, and how to behave. We form our likes and dislikes and tell people about them. We never stop. I’m me. I like this. I don’t like that. I’ve never been good at that. This is what I value. This is what upsets me. This is who I am in my family, in my classroom, to men, to women, to my neighbors, to my lovers, to my coworkers, to my children.

We let the world finish our story, becoming a closed book full of premeditated answers. On first dates and one hundredth dates, we spit out the same lines: we like seafood, we were embarrassed in the 8th grade, we’ve always wanted to go to China, we dislike ourselves in high-waisted jeans, we can’t bake, we never know what to say to children, we like this band or that, we’re too sensitive.

Know yourself, we’re told. Read the book the world has written for you. Be the person you’ve been taught to be.

If only we knew it was okay to open the book, to tear out the pages, to discard them and rewrite them. To listen to the ancient wisdom and foolishness that was there before the narrative started; that will remain after the narrative ends. To be with ourselves and decide what we are, in each moment, every single day. To find beauty in new places. To find new beauty in ourselves. To do something we’ve been telling ourselves we can’t. To re-categorize our life story—to reassign it on the bookshelf of human existence. Maybe it’s not a drama; maybe it’s a comedy. Maybe you’re not too this or too that; maybe you let go of grudges; maybe you see how silly you were for believing you couldn’t do anything you set your mind to. Maybe you’re the heroine your ancestors have been waiting for.