The following rambly post is written for my twenty-year-old self (and to you, to those of you who want it). This is what I know and believe now. I did not know it then, or even a year ago.
It was April in 2011, I was graduating soon, and all of my graduating friends and I could not stop talking about the things we were going to do next (even though most of us had no clue).
I remember we were driving back from Salt Lake City--I was in the passenger seat, and my friend Laura veered off of I-15 via the University Parkway exit. Back to Provo, back to BYU. At the red light, I told her that I would not give back my English degree for the world. That though my interests had broadened and changed during my four years at Brigham Young's university, though my very person had broadened and changed, I would still choose my major and take all the same classes again. I'd choose it all again.
But, I said emphatically, I will not study English in graduate school when and if I decide to go. I will not spend more time reading books and writing long discourses about why they matter. I'm not sure it does, I said to my friend. In the end, it just does not matter, I said.
My voice did not shake and my eyes were just fine, but I said that for the very first time aloud and I may as well have bashed a baseball bat around at my insides. I broke my very own heart. You can break your own heart, you know, and it's the worst kind of break. I convinced myself that all of those stories and the things that I learned from them, while beautiful and full of grace, did not matter to me or to anyone. They do not save people from death or fill empty stomachs, after all. They do not stop guns and bombs. They do not find lost sisters or puppies. They do not keep people from falling out of love.
My friend agreed with me then, and we talked about something depressing. Like business school.
It's been a year now, and I know that I was wrong.
Stories matter. They matter so much.
I've read stories about real people and imagined people, and I have thought, that is me, that is me right there, we are the same. I am not alone. When you are wholly alone, you might as well be dead--that's how it's felt. But if Jo March, Clyde Barrow, Joanna Brooks, Elizabeth Shulman, Jakob Beaer, Steve Jobs, Hermione Granger, and my great-great-great grandmother are alive somehow and I see myself in them and them in myself--well that's a lot of people. That's a lot of people to feel together with. And I did not die the deathly death of loneliness. The stories have saved me.
All the stories I've read and heard and seen, through words and music and paint, on stage and in the world right in front of me, all the stories--they've helped me learn contentedness inside and hope for more compassion outside. There are a lot of people in the world who need help and hope, me and you included.
The stories tell me that I'm not alone. And so I can't be alone in this either, right? Tell me the stories matter to you too. Tell me that they really do matter.
(Post note: I am not completely averse to business school. I'm very much in favor of it, actually.)