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be the hero of your own story

A great start to St. Paddy's Day, indeed! At the gym this morning, I had a pretty unique experience. Throughout high school, as I now feel most everyone does, I experimented a lot with my musical tastes. I was open to all sorts of new sounds and vibrations, experiencing any new artistic talents I could soak up. The other day some Mika came on my shuffle, and it took me right back to the third floor of Wendell, lying on a friend’s dorm room floor, bonding via singing “I could be brown, I could be blue, I could be violet sky; I could be hurtful, I could be purple, I could be anything you like!” in our silliest Mika voices. Other favorites of that growth period include Amos Lee (who I still listen to regularly and see in concert every time he’s in LA), John Mayer’s “Continuum” album, Lily Allen, and Regina Spektor. Oh, Regina Spektor. What a force, especially to impressionable teenage listeners.

One of my favorite Regina Spektor songs to this day is “Hero,” which was released in 2006 - a pivotal learning year in my life. It’s crazy to think that song is over a decade old and yet still so relevant. There are many different critical interpretations of the song, many of which deal with a humanistic view of religion and its place in society, but the song’s resounding message is clear. Regina repeats “I’m the hero of my own story/Don’t need to be saved/It’s alright, it’s al-/Right.”

Some people might recognize this song from the Indie darling “(500) Days of Summer.” It plays as background music during a climactic scene, contrasting the lead’s expectations vs. reality. It fits perfectly well, thematically, with the film. But that’s because the theme of the film is one in which the lead becomes the hero of his own story.

In life, we are all supporting roles to other people - a constant rotation of characters. Where we get tripped up, however, is when we become so invested in someone else’s story that we forget we have our own tales to write.

As someone who falls on the spectrum of red hair, I often get red-headed celebrity comparisons. Even when I was still living back home in Philadelphia, guys’ go-to pick-up lines hovered around “Amy Adams-like,” “Emma Stone-ish,” or “young Julianne Moore.” Interestingly enough, in the last few months I’ve been contacted about being a body/photo double for more than one of those actresses.

When you get a call about being a photo double for an A-list actress, it’s an exciting feeling. That feeling of excitement, however, can easily turn to disappointment if you don’t book the job. I won’t lie; I was bummed at first when I didn’t get booked as a photo double for either one of the two actresses for which I was being considered. After the second time I wasn’t chosen as a red-head A lister’s photo double, I allowed myself a quick 8-minute cry - four minutes each for both jobs I didn’t book. No more, no less. 8 minutes, specifically, to let it out. Once the initial sting of the band-aid rip passes, it really doesn’t take me long to bounce back and move forward.

At the gym this morning, I had a noticed a young woman around my age who was wearing a really cool shirt and really cool spandex. Basically she had her gym wardrobe down to a perfectly-concocted science, and it was impressive. I approached her during one of her rest periods as she was speaking to another woman and told her I liked her shirt. She was delighted by the compliment and mentioned that the other woman to whom she was speaking had actually just complimented her pants. The three of us then proceeded to have a conversation about Regina Spektor. Why, you may ask, would these three women with different life experiences all be huddling around workout machines talking about anti-folk/indie pop and feminism? Because the shirt the other young woman was wearing read: “The Hero of Her Own Story.”

It was an amazing moment. My entire life I’ve believed that everything happens for a reason - even if the reason isn’t apparent at first. Everything that happens in life has a purpose, whether it be to propel you forward, to help you connect or reconnect, to help you grow, or to help you appreciate. This morning at the gym wasn’t anything spectacular at first. I got up at 5 AM - the same time I do everyday, I got dressed, I walked my dog, and I got on the same machine rotation I do each time I go to the gym. But maybe those two other women I met this morning changed up their routines, which lead to the three of us having a great conversation, inspiring this blog post.

And those photo double jobs I didn’t book? I’m thankful I’m on people’s radars and that I’m being seen and being considered, but I’m also grateful I didn’t book those jobs. I’m not just interested in jobs anymore; I’m interested in my own career. Had I interviewed last week for the most recent photo double offer and actually gotten the job, I wouldn’t have been able to go to the audition for the lead role that I actually wanted and that I ended up booking. An amazing opportunity that was recently offered to me that would put me in Canada this summer? I wouldn’t have been able to capitalize on that, either. Things have shifted in my life, and so has my perspective. I didn’t book those jobs because I’m not supposed to be someone else’s double or someone else’s stand-in.

I’m the Hero of My Own Story.

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