I could have married Elvis Presley.
I simply needed to be born 40 years earlier to different parents. Those parents would need to move me to Germany when I was fourteen so that I could meet him while he was serving in the army. You and I are thinking the same thing right now, “Hannah, it’s totally plausible. YOU could have married the King of Rock & Roll.”
You see, as other 16-year-old’s were reading Seventeen Magazine and Cosmo I was gushing over every Priscilla Presley book that I could find. For reasons I still cannot pinpoint I was infatuated with the the girl who graced Graceland. Although it was not the happiest story of all time, I envied her story in so many ways. I wanted it for my own, dark times and all.
We grow to be pretty good at belittling our life experiences in order to shine a spotlight on the ones we deem to be more interesting. It takes a few seconds to swap out our own story for one that is more “Hollywood,” more “glamorous.” We want to be loved like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. We want a worthwhile adventure of Eating, Praying and Loving like Elizabeth Gilbert. We drool over the picture perfect endings for the winners of American Idol and half of us have wanted to be Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
I think its time that instead of constantly glorifying the stories of others we begin to hold up our own stories. We waste time wrapped up in the way someone else lives their life, in picking apart our own lifestyles because they don’t unfold perfectly, because we haven’t fallen in love as quickly as we had hoped.
Let’s face it, we are all destined for different stories. Different Best Friends. Different First Kisses. Different Moments Of Clarity. But the key to all this is that we claim them. That we don’t shove them off because we think they are not pretty enough or thrilling enough or good enough to percolate in the ear of someone else. We need to stomp all over this insecurity and set out writing our story as if it were a New York Times’ Bestseller, as if every person in the whole wide world had a reason to read about our every single step.
Who is to say that one day Priscilla Presley won’t be gushing over my life story? Maybe Angelina will sit down at night and read your story to her seventeen children. It could happen…
I look back on the silliness that was my “green monster” envy for Priscilla’s story and I realize… I could have never married Elvis. Priscilla and I could have been standing side-by-side in front of that gorgeous blue-eyed boy and he most certainly would have still picked her. Because that was the way her story was supposed to play out. Her story. Not Mine.
But if it were different, if by some chance of fate her story was my own, what would be done with all the pieces of my lifetime that I have created? Someone else would get my father’s famous milkshakes. Another girl would be living out my dreams of becoming a writer one day. A little girl in El Salvador would be missing a sponsor. My best friend would be telling her tales from Prague to a best friend who was not me. And I might look at that life, that life of someone else, and think, “that could have been my story.”And then I would sigh and wonder if we will ever be happy with what we have in front of us.
We can learn much from the lives and stories of others (which is why I think sharing is always a good thing), those stories will help us flesh out our own. I think it will be a beautiful day when we all pick up the pencils and love our own lives first, instead of the lives that look more appealing or whimsical. Because we are the authors, illustrators and editors of our own tales for a reason but only we can bring that reason into existence.
What do you love about your own story?