25stories: MeLissa

At 25 MeLissa was living in Nashville, taking stand-up and comedy writing classes, and working to figure out what her next move would be. As a comedian she knew that the possibilities were endless, but at times it felt like the uncertainty was too. The goal immediately in front of her was to answer the question of whether her dream could become a reality or would ultimately waste her time. Her picture of the future was shifting. Where once lived the traditional idea of early marriage and motherhood, now glimmered an inkling that a career in entertainment was attainable. This career was a path nobody had forged for her. If she was going to pursue it, it would be scary, uncertain, and maybe lonely. MeLissa decided that was OK. She decided that not only was she committed to her dream, but she was willing to do the work and take the risks necessary to attain it. 

What stood in front of MeLissa was a question of confidence. Though she considered herself a generally brave person, she used this as a justification to let fear stop her in the less obvious areas. Fear of what people thought, of what she was truly capable of, and how things were inevitably going to turn out. Fear that what should be was stronger than what could be. To move past this she had to learn that she was capable and enough--on her own, at that moment. MeLissa learned that she could walk forward, even if it meant going alone. The validity of her dream was not contingent on somebody else chasing it with her. She learned that she would always be growing and changing, but that didn't mean she needed to wait to start. That moment in time was her's and there was nothing stopping her from moving forward. 

Now, five years later MeLissa is living that dream. She's doing incredibly cool things like doing shows with Amy Poehler and performing in the same lineup as famous comedians such as Louis CK and Bob Odenkirk. More than that, though, MeLissa is growing every day into a person who is happier, healthier and more grounded in what she believes and where she wants her life to go. She's taken all that fear and uncertainty and used it become a person who is more alive and less afraid to step out with confidence in her abilities. Also, she's learned to love running which is really half the battle of being an adult. 

So many things MeLissa said resonated with me, but something in particular was about the chance to grow in this time of life. She said "...every year is an opportunity for exponential growth because so much is coming at you in a sink-or-swim kind of way." I often get bogged down by the constant-ness of adulthood. Every day there are a million things, actual big important things, that need my attention. That can be really exhausting. Sometimes I want to press pause and go hide in my college apartment where the only pressing thing was a paper I had due in three weeks. Everything moved so slowly back then. I didn't have days or weeks to learn, I had whole semesters, entire years. Now there are times where I have just minutes, or even seconds, to make a decision. But that's not a bad thing. 

Every uncertainty or challenge that I'm faced with is an opportunity. A chance to learn, grow, prove to myself that I am capable. I can't sit around waiting for someone to teach me, because I just don't have the time anymore. If I want to be a good mother, I have to do it now. If I want to have a successful business I have to work on it today. If I want to become a better writer I have to practice constantly. If I'm waiting for someone else to give me permission, tell me I'm good enough, or hold my hand, then I'm only delaying my dreams. I can't know what I'm capable of or how things will turn out until I actually jump in and do the thing. 

In my 25th year I will remember that, at this very moment, I have everything I need to start.

P.S. Bonus wisdom from the woman herself when asked what she'd tell her twenty-five year old self: "Get more sleep, you looney tune." A valuable lesson for us all. 

25stories is a series I'm writing as I prepare to turn 25. I'll be talking with twenty-five women and then sharing their stories. I don't have much figured out about life, but I know that I learn some of the best lessons by listening to the stories of those around me. See more here.

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