“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.” ― Patrick Rothfuss
I didn’t want to be in college. My boyfriend lived at home, and I missed him every single day. I was attending an amazing institution with a lot of bright people, and yet I hated it. I had been dating the same guy since I came to Wake Forest in my sophomore year, and he lived five hours away.
I told my family that while the university offered a great education, I found the campus to be boring, the students snooty, and weekends almost unbearable.
I sat around at night waiting for the phone to ring so I could talk to the love of my life. I made little effort to get to know other people. Granted, I was working three jobs most semesters, but still, my free time was spent watching television in the common room.
I lived for the one trip each semester my boyfriend made to see me, and I dreaded to see him drive away. I told myself and everybody I knew at home that this school was probably a mistake. I shouldn’t have come to it. I should have gone to school at home.
The summer of my junior year, my boyfriend asked me to move home and attend college there. For some reason, I refused, and we broke up.
I returned to school with a different story. I had made a choice to leave my boyfriend and complete my education. While it was a difficult break-up, it all felt right.
I started to reach out to other girls on my hall. Every weekend night I played Uno with a bunch of friends in New Dorm. I attended a dance on the arm of a guy I had met during one of those card games. I reconnected with an old friend who was attending the seminary nearby.
When springtime hit, I put on roller blades and skated around the campus. I landed a teaching job at the Optional Education school, and found a dear friend who let me borrow her car several times a week to teach. I bet on the ACC Tournament and watched the games with about 25 other people. I was one of two remaining in the betting pool when Georgetown lost.
I met a guy who was writing a novel, and we talked for hours about his next chapter. I thought it was brilliant.
Finally, in my senior year, I began to love my school and the people in it.
Had the school changed? No. Had the people on campus changed? No. What changed was the story I told myself about it.
No longer was it a snooty school where people refused to interact with me. No longer was it unbearable.
I had come back to school with a new story in my heart about this place where I had chosen to stay. I started creating new relationships and opportunities by saying “yes” instead of “no.” Well, I didn’t say “yes” to everything, but you get the idea.
I learned something in that senior year:
If you want to change your life experience, then change your story.
If you’re miserable at work, change the story you’re telling yourself every time your feet hit the floor in the morning.
If you’re in an unhealthy relationship, perhaps you need to tell a new story minus one character. There are plenty of wonderful characters out there.
Life change is just a new paragraph, sometimes written by us, sometimes written by outside circumstances. The way you edit the event matters. Why? Because you tell yourself stories every single day — it’s the way the two hemispheres of your brain make sense of the information being taken in. The left side of your brain has an inherent need to link events and construct a story to help you understand what is going on.
Change your stories and you’ll change your beliefs. And then your actions. And then your results.
Remember that you are the editor of your life’s story. Edit carefully.