The other day, a friend of mine who works for Conde Naste suggested that I entered an essay contest being run by one of its magazines. I don't like contests. As a matter of fact, I hate contests. Life is enough of a competition without the added pressure of competing for the sake of competing. I smiled and nodded at the proposition, but these days I have enough on my plate so I brushed the idea aside and gracefully rejected the offer. I didn't even know what exactly the assignment was. To be completely honest, I didn't even finish reading the email.
Yesterday afternoon, in an effort to amuse myself during these days of flu induced boredom, I bought a number of magazines. Bear in mind that I don't actually read magazines. I glance over them while I wait in line at the supermarket. There is no need to waste money on that as it is my belief that I have read enough magazines in my time to know just about everything they could possibly teach me.
This time though, I bought them and felt like reading and as luck would have it I stumbled across the ad for the essay contest my friend was talking about. Then 100 pages later I stumbled across the rules.
"My Great Real Life Story"- 2,500-4,000 words. Typed. Double Spaced. "A story that defines you, that tells the world how you became the person you are today"
Instinctively I reverted back to that email. I read through the list of reasons why I should take the time to write. "You've had a cool life", "you've gone through a lot", "you have always done things on your terms"...
And I started writing.
Incidentally though, my unfinished stream of consciousness prose has shown me that the story that defines me, is not one of coolness and empowerment but one of weakness. My Great Real Life story is a story of someone who keeps jumping ship without any idea of how she is going to stay afloat and has only love to propel her treading.
This is great in the sense that I am still here and have built a pretty good life for myself, but I wonder if mere survival is a great story or if what would make my story great is that one day this love will help me to really swim. Or that I will one day turn into a lotus...