Everyone has a story to tell… what’s yours?
Today, I’m going to tell you mine.
I’ve always been dreamy and idealistic by nature – when I was little, I’d read a fairy tale and believe that the princess could be me. Because I’m also naturally optimistic, I’d spend long afternoons indulging in day-dreams of some long-off future; without any specific goal in mind, but rest assured that these day dreams involved my prince charming coming to rescue me on his white royal horse.
Sometime during my teenage years, when I’d stumbled upon my love for writing (or was it that the passion for writing found me? I’m not sure), I’d scribble in small notebooks, or the back of a cardboard pad, putting on paper what my mind thought; expressing whatever my spoken words could not. I found so much solace in writing that when someone first asked me what I wanted to be – I said with unshaken conviction and innocent sincerity – that I wanted to be a writer.
It’s weird though, because I suppose you don’t have to aim to be a writer (in the sense of being paid for your written work) – to me, you either are a writer, or not.
And this mixture of feelings – birthed out of an innate necessity to put in black and white whatever that I was experiencing; coupled with the fact that I found writing to bring me great inner satisfaction and joy – only grew stronger throughout the years.
At the back of my mind – despite whatever I was going through in life at whichever point – I always knew instinctively that writing was my destiny. But sometimes, your destiny and dreams are put on hold, especially when you’re in a very practical and materialistic environment.
You see, where I’m from in Singapore, there are certain careers that children are discouraged from before they enter University – for instance, being artists or designers or writers or anything that isn’t a proper profession (such as being a doctor, a lawyer or an accountant). By pragmatic advice, it is best to graduate from University with a professional degree in hand, and in the management university that I went to, it was best if you’d graduated with a finance degree (and preferable a second one too), together with two or three banking internships completed.
Because of that, my impressionable self pushed my love for writing far to the back of my plans; and suddenly I felt the pressure to be well-versed in financial jargon and to rub shoulders with the people who might be important bankers or financial advisers in the future. There was an inner conflict that I couldn’t acknowledge back then – I struggled between being a part of the financial world and wanting to write, just write, for the sake of writing and nothing else.
When I shyly admitted to someone then that what I really wanted to do was write, really, I remember his snide remark which crushed all my hopes of being a writer. In this person’s words and mind – “What can you write? What will you write about that people will want to read?”
I didn’t realize it back then, but those words were fatal criticism that blew out the flame of hope that flickered in my heart, the one that I’d desperately tried to keep alight all those years. While I’m so grateful that this person is no longer a part of my life, those words left a large dent on my self-esteem and my hopes; and it later took almost a decade for the hurt inflicted to be reversed.
It was only after graduating from university, and after which I took the crazy relocation leap to live in Buenos Aires that I managed to shrug off the burden of trying to live up to the expectations of others – and only then did I really let writing become a large part of my life.
I was reading through The Yellow Table’s archives this week when I got stunned by this post.
In Anna’s words, “If we all stopped trying to live each others stories and lived our own, we’d make a lot more of an impact on this world AND we’d be a whole lot freer to actually celebrate each others’ victories and shoulder each others burdens. Living my own story doesn’t make me selfish, it makes me authentic. But it requires me to be rooted in the present, to risk vulnerability, and to take joy in my life’s idiosyncrasies.”
Through her writing, which is simple, honest and brimming with wisdom, it dawned on me that life shouldn’t be about copying someone else’s story.
The beauty of life is in living and writing my own story.
Because while I may envy the fact that there are university peers who have been able to buy their own houses and cars by age 30 thanks to fast-tracked banking careers; or the fact that some of my close friends are already engaged or married; or that others get to stop working for a year and take off traveling – these aren’t my stories to tell.
Just thinking it gave me goosebumps all over.
It was one of those moments which mark a before and an after; separating the past and the future with a roller coaster rush of adrenaline.
I feel like a burden has been lifted off my back; a feeling of taking a step into the unknown; akin to the sensation I experienced when I did cliff-diving for the first and only time in Boracay, Philippines.
There’s a freedom in knowing that my life is unique, special and different from others – in no way better or worse.
And so, even if I don’t make a career in one of the world’s largest banks, even if I don’t know when I’ll be able to buy my own apartment; or which continent our plans will lead us to (Europe? Asia?); it doesn’t matter. I will live my own story, and I know writing will be a large part of mine. Whether I’ll write only for leisure, or whether writing lets me earn a living, I don’t know. But I know I will write.
I don’t want to be a copycat of somebody else. I want to be inspired by others, not feel compelled to compare myself to them.
Because I can’t be anyone but me. And no one can be a better Felicia Lim than me. And no one can be a better you than you.
So go. Live your story. It’s yours and only yours to write.
GRAIN-FREE FLAX GARLIC HERB CRACKERS (Makes 4 dozen)
Adapted from: Paleolland
1) 1 1/4 cup almond meal
2) 3/4 cup flax meal
3) 2 tablespoons of olive oil
4) 1 tablespoon of water
5) 1 teaspoon of salt
6) 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
7) 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
8) 1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley
9) 1 egg, whisked until frothy
1) Stir almond meal, flax meal, olive oil, water, salt, garlic powder, dried herbs and egg in a large bowl until a thick dough forms.
2) Using your hands, form the dough into a thick square or rectangular block
3) Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it out with a rolling pin until it is about 1/4 cm (1/8 inch) thick.
4) Pre-heat oven to 400 deg Fahrenheit (200 deg cel)
5) Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and then cut the dough into crack shapes (squares or rectangles are the easiest) using a sharp knife or pizza cutter
6) Transfer the dough (together with the bottom parchment paper) to a baking sheet
7) Bake for about 15 minutes or until crispy and fragrant
8) Allow to cool before separating along scored lines into crackers
9) Store in an air-tight container at room temperature
P.S. If you’re wondering why I’m trying to eliminate wheat from my life, I strongly recommend Wheat Belly – a book that will empower you and make you determined to get rid of wheat and it’s terrible health effects!