Imagine you’re reading a novel and finish the second chapter, a chapter in which the plot unexpectedly takes a turn for the worse. You wouldn’t just stop after chapter two, convinced that you understand the story in its entirety—you keep reading because there is more there.

As a child, I hardly blinked twice at the concept of the unknown because everything was unknown to me, and everything contained worlds of its creation. I was inspired by a lack of certainty and completion. At some point, though, this ability to dream in the realm of uncertainty began to feel like a hindrance.

My first great narrative of pain happened at the age of 11 when I was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The diagnosis shifted how I saw the world and it lingered in my body as an amalgamation of hopelessness, pain, and entrapment for nearly ten years.

When exactly do we learn to feel that our fears, deepest desires, and needs are burdensome? We all charge bravely towards the music, feeling lost and insignificant in time amid struggles.

It’s surprisingly simple to cling to a central narrative, a one-dimensional basis of our lore. We can become our pain in our eyes, as it is only ourselves most intimately familiar with our emotional experiences.

We all encounter hurt at some point and spend a long time (even years) trying to fit this new story into our lives. We think these stories make us unlovable or incapable and we try to erase them from our bodies. We cling to the pain in hopes of honoring the heavy memory, paying tribute to a faceless phantom that no longer calls our name.

The weight of overidentification with our pain stifles our core selves. Sometimes you just miss the fact that there is a weight strapped to your back: You hold onto it unknowingly until you’re finally ready to arrive somewhere lightly. Being weighted no longer remains a viable method of existence.

A meaningful life couldn’t possibly mean the absence of struggle. In charging bravely towards the music, we seem to realize time and time again that we were the music all along. We are here to emote, collaborate, fall in love, and write poetry in our Notes app. To fall, to shapeshift, scrape our knees, wear out our headphones, and eventually give back all that we’ve learned with open arms.

Context can become an empowering agent in our hearing. In making sense of who we were when we experienced the narrative, we can begin to disconnect from the feelings of randomness and understand that the experience belonged to us all along. It’s ours to make peace with for the sake of our present and future well-being.

I became the person I needed as a child because that child is me across all stories. Someone imperfectly compassionate, forgiving, and committed to expanding themselves and their capacity to love. I write new stories each day and add to the novel of my consciousness, deliberately refusing to give up after chapter two.

My functioning body, my lungs filling with air, the sunlight dancing each morning on my face to wake me up. Facing fears and realizing the danger was never there, rejecting a narrow view of the world and rather exploring new modes of being, creating, and doing.

We can each reject the notion of a single story and dig deeper for the truth about what it means to exist in our bodies. To see this moment as equally important as the last and the next and let the experience blend into the background as we wake up to face a new day.