Why It's Important To Be Your Own Protagonist
Dear Younger Me,
You cannot choose what you love, I’ve learned. And you love the arts. You love to write, you love to read, and you love, love, love the theater. You’ve fallen deeply in love and you are going to be rejected. A lot. You’re not always going to get the part. You’re not always going to be accepted. People are going to be critical of you and tell you you’re not good enough. You will be overlooked. You will come in second, or third, or last. You will doubt yourself and your abilities.
Worse, people are going to tell you not to try. People are going to tell you to do something “worthwhile,” something that makes money now, something that supports, not something that leads. You’re going to think you’re making the right choice, that you’re growing up and moving on, that you’re making good decisions. But, if you give up on the things that give you that spark, you’re going to lose your soul. Trust me on that one.
If something or someone is getting in the way of you following your passion, it doesn’t mean you need to listen to them and give up. What do they know? Are they so successful that their word is better than your heart? If someone who claims to love you is telling you to abandon your favorite things in the whole wide world, do they honestly think you’re brilliant and amazing? No. They have their own agenda. They want you to fund their dreams with your time and efforts and money. They want you to be their shadow. They don’t believe in you. They want you to turn down your volume so they can be the lead singer in your life.
You are the protagonist. These are your adventures. Think long and hard about what will truly make you the best version of yourself. Is giving up for the sake of someone else heroic? Sometimes. Is giving up for the sake of someone else a mistake? Very possibly.
There are myriad examples of famous, successful people who were rejected. People you love and admire. People who are called unequivocal geniuses. Even they were told they weren’t up to snuff. How did they keep going? They had to believe. They had to surround themselves with faith in their success. They had to sometimes significantly redefine success.
You have a fire. You have a passion. You have a brilliance, but like a flame, it can go out if it’s not fed, cared for, and protected. You need to feed your flame. You need to care for it and protect it from those who would extinguish it. You need to surround yourself with creative, vibrant people who fuel your flame, who help bulwark it against the storms, who will help relight it if it momentarily goes out.
Keep writing. Keep reading. Go see every show, keep auditioning. Pursue every dream. Don’t apologize for your love. Your love is gorgeous. Show it off, wear it with pride, and do not ever, ever give up on it. Please promise me. I love you. I believe in you.