“I got into this business because I love stories. They comfort us, they inspire us, they create a context for how we experience the world, but also you have to be careful because if you spend a lot of time with stories, you start to believe that life is just stories. And it’s not. Life is life. And that’s so … sad … because there’s so little time … and what are we doing with it?”
Princess Carolyn opens the Season 4 finale of Bojack Horseman with these questions. If you wait too long to hit the pause button, you’re quickly ushered away from the drama by the ridiculousness of the adult cartoon, which features a wild amount of animal puns and some of the most devastating plot lines I’ve watched on television. I’ve already talked my coworkers’ ears off about the pure genius of this television show, so I’ll spare you.
I’m a storyteller. I’ve always been a storyteller. I wrote memoirs when I was 4. (There wasn’t much content, I was experimenting with chronology, it was overall a mess. At age 4, I also complained to my mother that my best friend’s emails were filled with spelling and grammatical errors. My mom said that I have to give her some slack, “because she is four years old.” I was a pretentious little thing, eh?) Before I graduated college, I always had a story. I was studying to do this. I had these goals for the end of the school year. Every grade had a perfect beginning, middle, and end. I could live in the story of each year or each summer.
When I was graduating college, I had a great story. I was backpacking in Europe with a one-way ticket. Crazy! I carefully edited out the part where I didn’t get into the Peace Corps. But within days of that plot line falling apart, I had booked a ticket and had a new story ready.
I’ve been stuck in the trap of living only in stories for years. When people asked me about my plans back in the States, I couldn’t just give them an answer…I had to give them a story. And this storytelling goes beyond my long-term plans. When someone asks me what I’m doing today, (even if that someone is me,) I have to give a story. Every day becomes a new chance for a story. Every day must be part of one big story. Every day must be productive, doing something to help tell this big bad story of…
This trap, illuminated by a big, imaginary spotlight, is exhausting. When every day is a new story, how can I justify staying in all day? What good is a boring story, or no story at all? What am I doing if I’m not doing something interesting? What do I post on my Instagram for the day?
My addiction to social media doesn’t help. But unfortunately (but most of the time, fortunately) for me, social media is what pays the bills. I can’t get rid of my Facebook. I can’t delete my Twitter. I need to know these platforms in order to do my job(s). (Hire me.) I went to school for public relations, but most public relations majors know that the work for us avocado-toast-eating-restaurant-chain-and-diamond-industry-killing millennials is in social media. And I love it.
I love working in social media and as a copywriter. I would love to blog and write for a steady income, but in order to do so, I feel the pressure of posting every day. Building up a blog or a writing career means that you have to keep writing or posting on social media, every day. At the right times. Using the right SEO. When you follow a backpacker or a yogi or a beauty blogger, you’re following their story. Without content or exciting new products to test out, the audience slips away.
This post, I will honestly say, is a bit more organic. I just want to fucking write something that means something to people who aren’t just backpacking. (But the more personal posts are the ones that get all the traffic, so maybe I’m doing something wrong.)
I just want to fucking produce something that I can be proud of, something that shows that yes, this traveling and exploring and writing and writing and writing and writing and pitching and handling rejection and writing and writing and writing and proving myself as a writer and working is worth something. I’ll be satisfied with a blog post for now, but I’m dreaming bigger, and I don’t know if I’ve ever actually said that/wrote that out loud/publicly before.
This dream is going to follow me to the Cameron Highlands, to Bali, and to Brisbane, the next three destinations on my list. But as I continue to blog and write and form partnerships and (hopefully) earn some income through writing, the lines between this big dream, this big story, and my actual life are blurring faster than that awful fucking song from 2013.
When I was in Chiang Mai, I called my parents in a fit of homesickness, and was reminded that I can book a flight home at any time. There’s definitely some bias in that advice, but they’re right. My mother reminded me that part of this trip is finding out what I want in life and where I want to be and who I want to be with and that if the answer is in Austin or Philadelphia or Australia, then that’s what I’ve figured out. And that’s the story. That’s my life.
Homesickness comes and goes, but my storyteller mind is always on. This mind is scrambling to find the climax or any semblance of the end. I have a bad habit when I read of flipping to the last page and reading a sentence or two.
This isn’t the case here. There is no end that I can flip to. This isn’t just a story. This is life. What am I doing with it?