I rewatched one of my favorite musicals this past weekend. I fell in love with Les Miserables when I was in High School and the message and meaning in this show continues to strike a chord with me.
Almost every time I watch it, I notice something new. This time around I was struck by the desire of several of the characters to tell a different story with their life than the one that had been written for them.
Some succeeded, others did not but their struggle offers some important lessons on the power you have to tell a different story (even when the odds are not in your favor).
I noticed three things the characters wrestled against as they sought to rewrite their story.
Valjean, the protagonist in the story, is a kind, compassionate man. His compassion for a hungry child led to him committing a crime for which he was jailed nearly twenty years.
Once released, he was labeled a dangerous criminal and from that point on all anyone saw was a criminal. The man he was got lost inside that negative label and, despite his best efforts, he could not get out from underneath it until a kind priest helped him remember who he really was.
The priest looked at Valjean and saw beneath the surface to the man hidden behind the label. The priest’s willingness to really see him helped Valjean to tell a different story.
Can you remember who you were before the world told you differently? Have you forgotten who you really are because someone else has labeled you?
Other people may try to put you in a box and set limitation on you because of how they perceive you. But what someone else thinks of you cannot be what guides your actions.
You are more than what someone else tries to label you. See yourself with eyes of compassion and remember who you really are.
Fantine is a young, unmarried mother who has found herself in a place in life she could never have imagined. She loved and trusted someone unworthy of her trust and it cost her. She becomes defined by that mistake and all around her she is looked down on because of it.
She tries to rise above it but she eventually succumbs to what society is screaming about her and their voices “turn her dream to shame.” She becomes who they say she is because she sees no other way out.
Does your past feel like a burden too great to overcome? Mistakes made that feel so big, so unforgiveable you can only see yourself through the lens of those mistakes?
Your past will stop you only if you let it. There will always be someone who will tell you how not enough you are but you have to dare to see yourself beyond the regrettable choices of your past.
See yourself beyond the surface of you who you once were and dare to dream again of who you can be.
Other people’s expectations
Marius is a young man from a privileged past. His back-story is filled in more in the book than in the musical version but he grew up with money and all the expectations of how he should behave as someone with that social standing.
But the weight of those expectations threatened to drown him and he sought to find a life of meaning outside of those expectations.
Getting involved in the revolution was his way of declaring his desire to live life on his own terms. Though the decision almost cost him his life, it was a decision HE made not one that was made for him.
Are you drowning under the weight of other people’s expectations? Voices so loud you can’t hear your own desires any more?
You have a choice, you can do what “they” want or you can dare to follow your own dreams. Sure there are risks but the risk of silencing your desires is far more damaging than the risk of disappointing other people.
Life may have written one version of your life, but you do have the power to tell a different story.
Here’s to you exercising that power and rising into your greatness.
From my heart to yours,
If you sense that you are living someone else’s version of your life and you are ready to take back control and write your own story, then I invite you to schedule a complimentary call with me today. During this call we will explore what life could look like for you as the author of your own life story.