Photos c/o Neshan Naltchayen
Emily Jansen lives in Washington DC, where she is a business communications manager, writer and philanthropist, inspired by her experiences volunteering in East Africa and representing Fortune 100 companies to foreign diplomatic corps. She enjoys cooking, traveling, playing piano, and participating in triathlons and cycling races. Someday soon, she hopes to write a book, as well as start a foundation focused on empowering female entrepreneurs through technology.
I have a crush on moleskin journals and Japanese pens. Separately, they mean nothing. Together, they make stories. Think about a new journal. The spine is stiff, pages blank, chapters ready to be written. Maybe, like me, you hesitate to start writing in it. Part of your story isn’t very beautiful. It’s different from others. Some pages are marked in red. Or maybe you feel stuck in it – like worn-in shoes you just can’t get rid of, but know you need to toss.
Loving yourself well starts with re-defining the expectations we have around our stories. We open the pages of our lives holding a pen, but crash in disappointment when the chapter doesn’t end the way we want.
At times, I believe I’m the sole author. And we certainly have our part to play — but if we are truly honest, we can’t control the chapters or write a perfect story.
When I think of my own story, my chest tightens with responsibility and an attempt to control the process of filling blank pages. But the best things in life are often unexpected. We can dedicate so much time curating and comparing our stories that we become story-masters – moving from scene to scene, and hoping people will affirm us, our present path, the life we’ve made.
For years I put pressure on myself to walk out a story that was similar to everyone else’s, but when things didn’t turn out like I expected, I had to laugh — why did I ever think I was writing my life?
Now I am learning to embrace my story as it is, await the beauty that will come in time, and accept who I am becoming in the process. I don’t need to occupy myself with the unknown, because today’s chapter needs to be lived.
Are you in love with your story? Are you leaning forward because you believe that today’s page and the next are going to be good? Not just sort of good or mirroring the good you see others as having – but perfectly good for you?
Some parts are messy, filled with tears, pain and loss. Some require self-acceptance, refinement, and faith to move beyond failure. It is raw and vulnerable, but your story is beautiful, because it’s the first, last, and only edition anyone will ever get to live.
Let’s stop comparing our stories. Don’t just skim the pages, or cross out the parts you’d rather erase. Love your life, live it well, and stay open to divine interruptions. When we let go of expectation, we find true freedom to embrace the story as it is.
Please be sure + read Part 1 of Emily’s inspiring Relationships and Loving Yourself piece.