“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” —Howard Thurman

 

In Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted (made into the film starring Anne Hathaway), Ella is given the “gift” of obedience by a fairy—she must obey everything anyone tells her to do. The plot climaxes when Ella is commanded to kill the man she loves as soon as he proposes (oh, and he happens to be a prince, in case the stakes needed raising).

Let’s leave Ella miserably clutching the dagger above her beloved for a moment.

ellaenchanteddagger

Because the equivalent of this happens daily. In what we know as the real world.

The easiest thing to do is to obey. Obey commands, comply with requests. Fulfill expectations, and you’re off the hook, at least for a while. It’s even easier than hiding.

The problem is, obedience rarely means you’ll do something you can proud of. This goes for designing a logo, writing a novel, planning a new venture…every creative component of a career and a lifetime.

What if instead, you gave yourself authority to decide? To lead your own life, to sound your barbaric YAWP, to exercise the right to remain silent, to create whatever your canvas can withstand, to march to your own inner drummer.

Because at the end of a day, after you’ve washed and dried your face, it is up to you what you’ll see in the mirror.

Can you look into your own eyes and say, “I endorse all of the choices I made today”?

(And not choosing is, of course, always a choice itself.)

If you’re not eager to autograph your day, what can you do tomorrow to change that? What can you do to let yourself be alive on your own terms?