On Simplicity and Sunglasses

sunglasses“You’re too young to wear sunglasses.”

I’m having a conversation with a good friend, lamenting the currently unbearable distance is between where I am and where I want to be. She looks at me, smiles, and says, “You don’t really want to be famous yet. You’re too young to wear sunglasses.”

Remember those movies about the small-town singer who becomes a superstar or the little obscure shy person who becomes the big-time success? There are plenty of them out there. Just about everyone, including me, likes to watch those rags-to-riches stories. In my case, I enjoy it right up to the moment when I remember that the lucky twerp who has everything work out for them isn’t me.

I want to be famous and successful so badly it hurts. And sometimes that pain, (oh heck, most of the time) is in the form of jealousy, depression, and severe impatience. I’m crawling out of the hole of one more pity party, and I’m done. I hate the “hangovers,” and the pity party wasn’t so sweet to begin with.

I want to embrace being exactly who I am. I’m not a bestselling author. I’m not a world-class swing dancer. I’m not a jazz singer. All of these things I’ve dreamed of being at one time or other. *Clears throat* Well, the author one hasn’t left my bloodstream yet, to be honest.

My theme song of the season:

‘Tis a gift to be simple, ‘tis a gift to be free.

‘Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be.

And when we’ve found ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

It’s not just about stripping my schedule and commitments down to the essentials to give myself room to breathe. It’s about finding joy in where I am today.

I am: Wife to a man who loves me more tenderly and patiently than I deserve. Mother to a son is learning to (dawwww!) give the sweetest baby kisses. Author with the chance to work with talented and kind people on my literary projects. Friend among a generous community of friendships.

I may not be famous. I may never be famous. And I really don’t need to be.

In those movies about how stars were born, the plot makes it seem like the protégée makes it big because s/he never gave up. Newsflash: Hard work is not guaranteed to be the magic bullet. Determination does help. I know it does. But when your ambition has brought you to the point that you’re losing sleep at night, worrying over details and ideas for how to get ahead because you’re still not where you want to be…it’s a load of crap. It’s just not worth it.

‘Tis a gift to be simple, ‘tis a gift to be free.

I want to relish the simplicity of now, and stand in that freedom. This doesn’t mean giving up my hopes in my future, but it does mean that I can’t let those hopes become an obsession.

Maybe one day I’ll wear sunglasses in public because I want to escape the fans. Maybe I’ll just wear them because it’s bright outside.

I’m just too damn tired of throwing inner tantrums because I haven’t “arrived” and I’m too impatient about getting there.

‘Tis a gift to come down where you out to be.

I’m here. I’m me. I’m okay with here. I’m grateful for *this*.

About Elise

Elise Stephens began her career in writing at age six, illustrating her own story books and concocting wild adventures. Stephens counts authors Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, and Margaret Atwood among her literary mentors, and has studied under Orson Scott Card. She dreams often of finding new ways to weave timeless truths into her stories. Her novels include Moonlight and Oranges (2011), Forecast (2013), and Guardian of the Gold Breathers (2015), a finalist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year. She lives in Seattle with her family. Follow her on Twitter @elisestephens and Author Elise Stephens on Facebook.

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