Once upon a time... It has been my own personal experience that those four words, are undoubtedly the most enchanting predecessors to many a wonderful story, and are in that respect the best way to start any good story. It has also been my own understanding that how a story starts and where it is that it begins are two completely separate things. My own story begins with the little girl who, from a very early age, was always entranced by those four little words (or the variations that thereof) and the stories that followed after them. This same little girl would stay up in the dead of night with the volume of her TV on as low as she could still hear so that she could watch movies and television shows that caught her attentions. This little girl would duck away –a feat which her tiny stature allowed her to accomplish rather easily- in hidden corners of her house reading for hours on end. This very girl would turn to her own mind when stories were scarce, and imagine up any sort of fantastical adventure she could. All of this was done with a rather childish belief in magic and an undying love of stories of all forms; this was my childhood.
Stories came naturally to me, both in their understanding and in their construction, and so it was only a matter of time before I discovered both a fondness and a certain talent for the written word. I started when I was younger with simplistic rhyme-based poetry and a handful of short stories which I wrote all throughout elementary school. These simple pieces were easy for me, and they always seemed to make me happy. With the completion of every poem or short story I would feel a sense of pride for the thing that I, myself, had created. I was a writer, I always would be, and -in this sense- I always have been. I still write today, and part of me knows that I always will write. Now, I write everything from novels to poetry to screenplays. Though writing is no longer the main focus in my life, I do still feel that sense of pride in the things I’ve created every time I write.
Regardless, stories have always, and most likely will always play a very important role in my life. I would be lying to both myself and to whomever were to read this paper if I said that stories -those I collect as well as those I create- did not have a profound effect on me and my life. Through many of my own writings, I have shaped the way I see many aspects of life. It was through stories of Egypt and Mummies (more specifically The Mummy movies) that I slowly made may way to discovering a love for Anthropology, which I am now studying. It was through novels and fairytales that I developed many of the ideals that I still hold dear today. Though I could give countless examples of these such instances as well as other I have not mentioned, perhaps the one story that has had the most profound effect on myself –or at least to which I share the deepest connection- is the movie Anastasia produced by 20th century fox.
The story of Anastasia to which I am referring, is that of an orphaned girl, with no recollection of her past or sense home, who finds herself on a difficult journey to finding out who she really is. As a child I always loved this movie, but I hadn’t started analyzing it and realizing just how much it really did seem to correspond in its own way to my life until I was much older. Though I am not an orphan –nor a lost Russian duchess- I still think of that movie as almost a symbolic representation of my life and of my goals in life; a rather silly notion when one looks at it I will admit, but a notion that I resonate with nonetheless. My analysis of the movie itself, and my epiphany as to how much I truly related to it, actually began accidentally as my best friend of seven years commented on how I reminded her a lot of Anastasia in both personality and mannerisms, something I too had been thinking after watching the movie for the first time in at least a year. I pushed the matter aside at the time, but slowly I started to truly think about the similarities. While we (Anastasia and myself) are both stubborn sarcastic and bold individuals, who do seem to know exactly who we are and would not hide that from those around us, we’re both still lost.
It wasn’t too long ago that I really started to search for who I really was, and as a first step to define who that person is. Even though I feel as if I have discovered a lot about myself over the course of this past year, I still know that all at the same time I’ve just begun a much longer journey. Though I have a better understanding of myself, I don’t believe that I fully know how it is that I’m going to or even supposed to fit in to the world around me. The same, I discovered in my analysis, was the case for Anya as she underwent her journey; she knew who she was, but not how that fully related to the world around her. It’s in this sense of knowing myself without knowing where I belong that I share maybe the most important similarity with the animated princess. It is my dearest wish, as it was Anastasia’s, to find a ‘home’, as it is something I’ve never truly had. I’m searching for a place where I could belong, and a small community I can belong to. Yet, I know that before I can really belong anywhere I still have to figure a lot of things out about myself, only then will I be able to try to find out where I’m meant to be.
What though makes Anastasia so important to my life and growth as a person? That lies within the fact that I learned the above lessons from that movie. From her experience –regardless of how fictional or animated it may have been- I learned the best way to handle my own personal confusion and disorientation about my life. She too had to truly find herself, before she was able to find her place in the world around her. Even from the very beginning she knew what she wanted to get out of her life, and then once she decided on the journey her life would take she stuck with it, even if it seemed ridiculous to her at times. From that movie, I’ve also adopted this mentality for my own life’s journey. I have decided to follow what feels right even if it seems like only a silly far-off-dream and then stick with the path I’ve chosen, until I’ve gotten what I wanted out of it. Whenever I initially think about how I’ve summed up most of my life and my aspirations and then compare them to a child’s animated movie, I feel more than a little silly. But then, when I really think about how much I’ve gained from and owe to this particular children’s story, I can’t help but smile fondly at the thought. This, though, is all done rightly so, once I think more on the subject, because it is in fact a good story.
There is something truly amazing about a good story. It has an inexplicable power over us; the power to move us, to challenge us, even to change us. In this sense, it’s almost magical. Stories have always affected me. As a child, I adored them –and still do. I welcomed them with an open heart and an open mind, and inquired after them with enough curiosity to kill a dozen cats. I was drawn to them, and because of that I chased after them as well. I couldn’t help myself. I dreamed about them; about the adventure and the magic that they all seemed to hold within them. In the end, it seems only right that I affect and am affected by stories; as it seems right that this will always be the case. For the only way to truly be able to manipulate that magic of the written word, is to be open to it, and to let it manipulate you as well.