I left WordPress two years ago because I had outgrown the story I was telling. When I started writing as Everyday Isa, I was so young — 21, fresh out of college, transitioning between my first and second job, but most of all, driven to catharsis by every artist’s favorite muse: heartbreak.
That was the story I had spun, a girl thrown into the messy post-grad world, with her heart pinned to her sleeve. And it was — it is — a true story. But it was not — isn’t — the only story.
Lin-Manuel Miranda gave the commencement speech at UPenn’s graduation ceremony yesterday. Lin is the creator (mastermind, writer, acting lead) of the Broadway super hit, Hamilton. I’d list all of his achievements down here but they’re really far too many. All you need to know is that he is a genius and yup, I am complete and utter #Hamiltrash.
Here is an excerpt of what he told the graduating class:
“Every story you choose to tell, by necessity, omits others from the larger narrative. One could make five totally different musicals from Hamilton’s singular American life without ever overlapping incidents. I include King George at the expense of Ben Franklin. I dramatize Angelica Schuyler’s intelligence and heart at the expense of Benedict Arnold’s betrayal. James Madison and Hamilton were friends and political allies, but their personal and political fallout occurs right on our act break, during intermission … This act of choosing, the stories we tell versus the stories we leave out, will reverberate across the rest of your life.”
Which is what led me to create this thing, this space, this blog.
You see, in the middle of stringing words together to cope with the reality of loss, I was also thrown into large moments of joy. I was living in the paradox of being broken and whole at the same time; one life reverberating with the strange and scary co-existence of two tangent ideas, grief and wonder.
But you didn’t get to hear much about it.
I wrote a lot about a boy. I wrote a lot about pain. I wrote a lot about learning to be strong. But I didn’t tell you about the time I got into grad school. And I didn’t tell you about my decision to drop out of it. I didn’t tell you about what I did with my first paycheck. I didn’t tell you about the friendships born in that season and the miraculous circumstances in which they came together. I didn’t tell you about my quest for a church to call home or why I left my last one or about the classes I took in New York City that assured me I was meant to write. In truth, there were narratives upon narratives that didn’t get told.
That’s just how it is.
I chose the story about self-love and healing. At the time, it was important to me for all that to get written down. I am grateful to have gotten the chance to be vulnerable on such a public platform. Everyday Isa challenged me to move towards courage. Brene Brown calls it the act of ‘being wholehearted’– to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.
But the lens has shifted.
The stories I want to tell now have less to do with my heart and more to do with my pedestrian life. I want to talk about the ordinariness of being human. I want to talk about books and television and, yes, Hamilton. I want to talk about why I stopped writing. I want to talk about why I want to write again. I want to tell you about the book inside of me, though I haven’t quite figured it out just yet. It’s not as inspiring or profound but it is the unglamorous truth I dance in these days.
Which makes it beautiful all the same.
I don’t want to write one version of the story anymore. I want to revel in the attempt of writing it all. I was never just a young romantic. I was always a hundred other things as well.
And so I’ll tell ’em. With any luck, I’ll tell ’em well.
I want to stick around.
I hope you’ll want to, too.