Stripping Away The Illusion

I was skimming through Facebook.  An old friend from high school who I occasionally see on my news feed had posted a link to her website.  Out of curiosity, I clicked it.

The link led to her website, where I saw her miscellaneous accomplishments in the fine arts – an award for poetry and various articles in foreign publications, among other works she’d gotten published.  I thought, “Now this is creative writing!”

And then came a twinge of envy.  She had taken her life into the direction that I had once thought was mine.  You see, in college I studied and took a degree in creative writing.  By graduation, though, I had already changed my mind about becoming a creative writer.  While I deeply enjoyed writing, I was just too thin-skinned at that time to take the kind of public criticism that such a career required.

Or at least that’s the “story” I’ve always told myself.  And, fortunately, it remained the “story” only until what I did after visiting my high school classmate’s website…

Seeing The Past Through A New Lens
So there I was, looking at her life’s work, and I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I had given up too easily on the path I’d once dreamed about taking.  After all, if she could do it, shouldn’t I have been able to?  I was so intrigued by the idea of seeing the past through a new lens that I pulled down a box of college writings I had tucked away in the attic years before, and I proceeded to read through those short stories and poems.

College WritingsAnd what I found was…

My writing back then really stunk.

Oh, sure, on occasion I came across a few sparks of genius, phrases here and there that showed some true brilliance.  But, on the whole, that writing was so mediocre and my talent so underdeveloped, that I would never have launched successfully on the path she actually took.

You might be thinking that this experience of stripping away the illusion and seeing the truth of the story I had been telling myself for the past 25 years was painful to me.

Actually, it was like pulling off a band-aid   The sting was temporary and brief.  Because what followed was a much more powerful feeling… a solid sense of relief.  Closing the last notebook, I said to myself, “Good! Now I can let go of all that crap!”

The next thing I felt, as this realization sunk in some more, was elation. I was elated to let go of the story that I could have had a different life if only I had made different choices.  The truth is that I could not have had a different life.  The one I have had is the one that was meant for me all along.  I am a writer, just not the kind that I thought I would be.

The Truth
As time stretches out in such a way that I can pull wisdom from it and actually apply it to my life, I’ve come to appreciate this particular truth… life is too precious to spend time regretting stuff and wondering about what might have been.  And after an inordinate amount of time spent believing stories about the past that weren’t true and doing what the late, great Zig Ziglar would call “stinking thinking,” I welcome the truth that where I am is where I have always been meant to be, especially since where I am is a pretty awesome place.

Stripping away illusions… releasing regret…  owning the truth…

It all feels delicious to me.

But maybe that’s because this stuff seems to be getting easier to do the older I get.  Or maybe it’s just less painful than we’ve all been led to believe.  Like how anticipating the pain of pulling off the band-aid is worse than it actually is.


Angela Loëb helps people rediscover and use their gifts so they bring who they are to what they do in life. __________________________________________________________

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