Some people go their whole lives without recognizing the theme playing in the background.
It isn’t until they realize, in a sudden burst of clarity, they should’ve opened their eyes sooner, but by then, it’s too late.
Change is hard and the familiar, even if it’s damaging, is comforting because, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t” is ingrained in our DNA.
When you realize the theme of your life isn’t the one you would’ve chosen as a bright-eyed child, still brimming with potential and sparkling with the wonder of life, you’ve hit the first fork in the road of your personal development.
Do you take the path less traveled — facing unforeseen challenges and potentially wonderful rewards — or do you stubbornly cling to the very thing destroying your peace and chipping away at what makes you special and unique?
The answer is extraordinarily difficult and layered.
Anyone who’s ever given up a damaging habit knows that the pull is a siren’s call and it requires Herculean strength to swim against the current to get to the other side.
But, here’s the thing, people do it every day.
People, with their beautifully flawed, uniquely complicated souls, are capable of anything they put their mind to, no matter the obstacle.
We see it every day — people facing down seemingly insurmountable challenges and thriving — sharing testimony that the strength of the human spirit is unfathomable.
When you hit that fork, if you decide that you’re no longer okay with the same movie for the rest of your life, you start to evaluate, dissect, and process what you’ve discovered are your themes.
This step is huge because it means setting aside your ego, pride, and self-limiting behaviors that have been contributing to your downward slide for a long time. It means staring into the abyss of your soul and letting the abyss stare back at you.
For some people, that level of stark self-awareness is more terrifying than anything they can imagine and they run; they will also never change — their theme will remain stagnant and eventually poison everything in their life.
But for the truly brave, being able to see themselves in all their flawed glory, is powerful stuff.
When I opened my eyes, I saw many wondrous things; I also saw a crippling theme.
In me, I saw talent, kindness, uncanny intuition, and fierce strength — a legacy gifted to me by the independent women of my ancestry — but I also saw hypocrisy, self-image issues, and low self-worth that caused me to invite chaos and pain into my life.
There were divergent character traits living inside me, battling for dominance and leaving me unbalanced and prone to questioning myself.
Seeking to unravel the theme and change the reel became the new foundation I was building for my future. My favorite bit of advice to my kids is this: Know better; do better.
Yesterday is gone. Nothing we say or do will ever change the events of the past but we can alter our future by making changes today that support our new theme.
And, don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be hard. It might even feel impossible at times but growth is a dance, two steps forward, one step back. As long as you don’t stop, you’re still dancing.
And dancing is joyful.
If you’re still reading, my point is this: you can always find a justification to quit and cling to the familiar but I can promise you this, there will come a day when you regret burning every opportunity to grow and thrive when all you have left is the ash of an unfulfilled life.
I don’t want that for you.
I want better for all of us.
We can do it together. Can you hear the music?
Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide occasional columns.