Have you watched The Princess Bride? It's a movie about a grandfather who reads his grandson a story while he's sick. Seriously, if you haven't watched the movie, just close your browser and go watch it. Then when you're done, come back and continue reading.
So if you've now watched the film, you know how the story goes.
A quick recap…
Westley leaves Buttercup to go earn riches on the high seas. But he's attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts and killed. Or so we think.
Years later she has plans to marry Prince Humperdinck. But just before, she's kidnapped. The leader of the kidnapping crew is Vizzinni – a Sicilian. With him is his swordsman, Inigo Montoya, and his giant, Fezzik. Together the three of them steal her and take off.
As they're taking off, on the high seas, the Dread Pirate Roberts catches up to them. Only, while named the Dread Pirate Roberts, the reality is that it's Westley. And he recognizes that the kidnapped woman is his childhood love.
He climbs the cliffs of insanity. He takes on the swordsman and the giant. And after defeating both, he catches up to the Sicilian.
It's a great story. It's an incredible story. It's an epic story.
You know what's next…
You're thinking I'm going to quote “Never start a land war in Asia,” don't you?
But I'm not going to. I'm going to ask you a different question.
How would you feel if Bilbo Baggins stepped into the story?
If you don't know his story, man you're missing out. Stop right now and go read The Hobbit. Come back when you've finished – the post will still be here.
Or watch the movies. However you learn of Bilbo's quest, just know this – it's an adventure.
The Hobbit is a great story. It's an incredible story. It's an epic story.
But you know what? It's not Westley and Buttercup's story. Bilbo just doesn't belong.
This is not my story.
I can clearly remember sitting at a table having a discussion with classmates about the course we were all taking. It's been over two decades since I graduated from Cal and yet I still remember the day I decided to step out of the BioEngineering program.
It wasn't a bad program. In fact, I'm not lying when I say it was a great program. It was an incredible program. It was, dare I say, way back then, an epic program.
But it wasn't for me. As I sat there interacting with classmates I recall feeling like the “one of these things is not like the others” person at the table.
I knew I was living out a story that would have been great for anyone else. But it just wasn't the right fit for me. I wasn't going to feel satisfied with that future. And I could see that I needed to make a decision.
But it all started with the realization that the story didn't need to be bad for me to reject it.
Does that make sense? Normally we only like to reject things when they're bad. When everyone looks at it and agrees with us. But sometimes it makes sense to acknowledge how great something is, and still know it's not for you.
Bilbo is a great dude. But he has no place trying to save Buttercup. His awesome story belongs elsewhere.
And once I realized I belonged elsewhere, I was free to find my own story. One that fit better and didn't have me stepping into a story that wasn't mine.
This is not your story.
I don't know where you're at. I don't know what you're up to. But I know this.
When you know that you're doing stuff that is good, and you're in a situation or environment that others would die for, it's pretty hard to allow yourself to feel unhappy or unfulfilled.
You tell yourself you should feel grateful because you're living a story others would die for. But you know what? That still doesn't highlight that this is not your story.
No matter how great it is. Now matter how envious others may be. No matter how right it pencils out on paper.
If deep inside you know it's not your story, feel the freedom to let yourself off the hook and start finding ways to get on your very own epic quest.
And when you find it, come back over this way and tell me about it.
I'm sure it will be great. I'm sure it will be incredible. I even bet it'll be epic.