“What is your story?”
– A short essay prompt I am asked when entering a contest to win a tiny house (or an all paid for adventure, or some other awesome thing that I can’t remember now). I am expected to answer this in under 500 words.
How am I supposed to sum up my life story in 500 words? This prompt is one of the most profound questions I keep asking myself as I navigate life and the never-ending decisions I am constantly faced with on a daily basis.
My name is Alaina. I am 29 years old and currently living in Brooklyn, New York. It’s been a weird past year but at the very least an excellent one for inner reflection, contemplation, growth, and truth.
I think about how I’ve gotten to this point of my journey on this bristling cold day in January 2021. And I suppose in a nutshell, by 29 I’d hoped to have obtained some kind of success, which would of course come with a handful of life-shattering failures to balance it all out and keep it interesting. Some of those moments? Getting hit by a car, breaking a tooth and needing eleven stitches on my bottom lip, losing my best friend in a fire, becoming homeless, having my heart broken a few times in between, losing my job. But, all accompanied by some of my coolest accomplishments: getting hit by a car and surviving, being on the front page of a newspaper, raising over $3500 in fundraisers, biking from Boston to NYC on my own two legs in three days, saving a young girl at a convention center whose parents’ had lost sight of her, earning a six figure income as a 28 year old without a bachelor’s degree, and performing CPR on a man who had suffered a heart attack.
And then… BAM. COVID-19 swoops in for the kill and wipes out all current plans and future goals for a little while. Just like that – an eerie atmosphere takes over, parents and relatives become plagued with this mystery disease, toilet paper disappears and businesses shut down. I go from six figures to none in an instant. I am humbled immediately. And I am forced to question the world and my entire identity as I’ve known it.
What do I do?
I sit back and observe for a sec – what is happening here?
We are being uprooted from the inside out and I am getting u n c o m f o r t a b l e.
I realized I had been granted a wish: TIME – the most precious resource a human can get. Time to explore my most inner depths and to dive deep into every crevice of my heart that I have neglected, seeking my source of happiness, or lack thereof.
And to be honest, I wanted nothing more than to escape this reality.
So, I did just that. I retreated into my mind, connected with my body and found my soul. I nurtured myself with nature and sought deeper connections with the people around me.
And then I left the urban jungle that is New York City for a little bit and spent some time exploring more of the natural beauties nearby. I spent the summer being outside. I biked, I camped, I beached. Went to Acadia National Park in Maine. Took a road trip to Allegheny National Park in Pennsylvania, down to Virginia’s Skyline Drive. Saw the largest caverns in eastern America. Hiked the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park. Drove down to Asheville via the Blue Ridge Parkway and made a stop in Cherokee National Forest before heading home.
During this time I had been given a real taste of how well I know myself and how much I don’t know about the world around me. In doing all this inner searching with changes in scenery, I became sure of one most absolute thing:
I couldn’t run from me anymore. I didn’t have to! And I had always known this, but when we’re caught up in the daily grind, we often forget that we are divine beings in bodies composed of atoms and molecules with a higher purpose and a limited time on this planet.
My point here is this…
When I think about ‘what my story is’, I think about what has been, what could be, and what I choose to create for the future.
And with that, I feel we must all keep in mind these 3 very important reminders I have taken from this introspective journey:
- It’s always about PERSPECTIVE
- It’s always about TIMING
- It’s always about how we RESPOND
Yes, things will happen out of our control. It matters what we decide to do – how we will act. There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours a week. Time and energy are not to be wasted.
Give yourself some credit for making it this far. Don’t let your past prevent you from creating a great future! And now, I ask you to dig a little deeper:
What do you choose?
What is the story you want to create?
What will you do with your time?
I hope that in sharing thoughts on my personal journey I will inspire similar thoughts and actions within you!
Thanks for reading 🙂