Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Inspiration from our younger selves

"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way." ~ Babe Ruth

I spent a number of years touring around the country with Broadway shows. I worked on the business side, taking care of everything from contracts to financial statement to company travel. Though I learned so much and enjoyed the job, I got tired of always being on the road. I wanted to live in a community and have a life outside of my job. My sister was also having some health issues, and I was really feeling the need to be with her. So I made a little deal with myself: as soon as I had $50,000 in the bank, I could leave, move to Florida with my sister, and figure out the rest from there. That was January 2003.

When I got to Florida, I spent time with my sister, took a few classes, and had the occasional odd job. And just when I needed a really good job, one miraculously showed up and it set me off on an entirely new path that lead to a move to Washington D.C., then to business school, and finally back to New York City. I just followed my heart every step of the way and made sure my bills were paid. Those were my only two requirements.

So now here I am at a crossroads again, though I'm finding myself unable to strike up a little deal the way I did back in 2003. In my heart, I am feeling a very strong need to write full-time, and yet that leap is much more frightening this time around. Now, it could be that my hesitation is caused by increased financial obligations (business school loans) and that the economy is in shambles. It could also be that, well, I'm scared now and I wasn't then.

Today I had to remind my 33 year old self of my younger self, that brave, bold woman who was willing to take a risk, who was willing to bank on her ability to build her own path in life. How is it that I was so brave then and more timid now? It could have been foolishness or blind ignorance that made me so brave in 2003. It could be that I just wasn't capable of doing anything except following my heart. It's this later explanation that I'm banking on resurrecting.

Last Fall, I wrote a post based on an assignment that I did for business school. It's a letter I wrote to my younger self. Now what I really need is my younger self to write a letter to me. I thought maybe a letter from my younger self would shake me awake, would give me some courage, would remind me of who I am and who I'd like to be. So here goes:

Dear Christa,
How did you get where you are? I remember when all you could think of was writing and performing and creating. And now when I think of how your days pass by, I wonder what happened. Your path from A to B was not linear. There were twists and turns. My guess is that while you are surviving quite well right now, you are not thriving in all the ways you'd like to be thriving. You're starting to feel a little trapped and lost and frustrated. That's only natural when the heart has lost its position as your guide.

I want you to know that it's okay that this happened. It's okay that you needed to take care of some necessary evils like paying off loans so that you can be free to pursue your larger mission in life. Sometimes we need to take a step back in order to leap forward. Just make sure you know why you're taking that step back, how it's going to help you leap forward, and how long it will be before you leap.

You have big dreams - so big that you might wonder if they're just too big for you to accomplish. You might be losing a little faith and more than a little confidence. I want you to put your fears aside. I want you to remember how fearless you were climbing trees, racing around on your bike, running so fast that you felt like you might run right out of your own body. And remember how good that fearlessness felt. I want you to remember how good it felt to be free. Completely, hopefully free.

I want you to think of your mom and your grammy, woman who always, always knew you could do anything and told you so. I want you to remember that a lot of people put a lot of faith in you and your potential. You owe it to yourself to reach out for those dreams of yours, and you also owe it to everyone else. It is your obligation, not your option, to use your gifts and talents to leave the world a better place than you found it. Don't think about your dreams as things you may be able to do; remind yourself that these are things you're meant to do, that you must do. Because doing anything else except fulfilling your dreams is just wasteful. And you hate to be wasteful.

Your feelings will undoubtedly be hurt from time to time. You will face rejection and sadness and lose your way. When that happens, do what you always did when you were little. Take a look at those stars. Stare at them until you realize how many miracles you're witnessing, until you recognize that accomplishing your dreams is a small feat when compared to the tremendous work that someone somewhere put into architecting that gorgeous Milky Way. Surely, if someone could line up all those beautiful stars to create something so intricate and perfect, then you can accomplish a handful of dreams, no matter how big they are, right? Right.

Keep your chin up, and give the reins of your life back to you heart.



The Journal of Cultural Conversation said...

Hi Christa - wow, this post make me tear up a little bit, in a good way! I love that you wrote a letter - perhaps that's something I will do as I start my new adventure and look back on it in the future. Thank you :)

The Journal of Cultural Conversation said...

Christa - this post made me tear up a bit, but in a good way! I think I'll do the same thing as I start my new adventure...write a letter and look back on it in a year or so. You're always inspirational!

Christa said...

Thanks, Laura! I always find lettering writing to be really helpful. Somehow it helps me to be more honest with myself.

Amanda said...

Ok, last comment from me today, I swear :)

I just wanted to share this quote:

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
-Howard Thurman

Christa said...

Amanda! I love that quote - and I am going to be writing about that shortly, giving credit to you of coures. And please keep commenting. Love your perspective!