Why the Movie RENT Changed my Life

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Most of this blog post I wrote in early 2010. It was originally a note on my personal Facebook page. What I wrote is below:

As I sit here listening to RENT, I’m inspired to share this story with everybody. I know somebody needs it today. I hope it gives somebody the strength they need to be themselves because as I look around the outside world I see many people who are not, and it makes me sad. In addition, this note answers another recurring question I get frequently. “Why do you love RENT so much?” My answer is as follows:

For as long as I can remember, I hated change. It’s part of having CP. The CP monster will have you believe that change is bad because it forces me out of my comfort zone and to open myself up to possibility, which could lead to emotional pain. I thought that way for most of my life. I also thought I had to be whatever everybody else wanted me to be in order to fit in. For me that doesn’t have the negative connotations that people probably assume. I just mean I wasn’t my authentic self most of the time. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was exhausting!

Everything changed in late 2005 when my mom took me to see the movie version of RENT. EVERYTHING is not an overstatement! From the first notes of “Seasons of Love” my life changed. I identified most with Mark: the filmmaker who talks passionately about having a community of his own, but hides behind his camera lens instead of dealing with his pain and living his life FULLY.

It hit me like a ton of bricks that I had been living like Mark. I was hiding in my chair. I was using my CP as an excuse to say I can’t live my life the way I want because of physical limitations. It made me mad that I hadn’t seen it before. I came out of the theatre with a new purpose: to live my life to the fullest every single second of every single day. It was my day of liberation. I decided that I no longer cared what people thought about me. I no longer cared about fitting in because I was born to stand out.

After that day, I started to integrate myself in the world more rather than sitting against the wall. I started to take chances, and jump at opportunities and embrace the changes that they undoubtedly bring.

The day I made the decision to liberate myself was the best decision I EVER made! It brought me to my fellow CSPC fellows, which was/ is one of the best experiences of my life. The CSPC fellowship made me realize that I wanted to go to graduate school instead of law school. Graduate school brought me a whole other set of experiences I wouldn’t change for the world. As I sit here writing this, do I still struggle with sometimes worrying what people think? Sure. Do I still struggle to be open instead of closed off? Yeah, of course. I think in some ways I always will. The difference is that now I’m aware of it. I feel it. I’m honest with myself about it, and give it room to breathe. That’s what being our authentic selves is all about: understanding ourselves and being okay with who we are flaws and all.

In the process maybe we not only help ourselves, but somebody else as well. That’s the point of life. To live in such a way that we inspire ourselves as well as others. At this end of this life, all we’re going to have is the legacy we’ve left. I don’t know about anybody else, but I want to know that I left it all on the floor. I want to know that I was authentic because that’s what I was meant to be.

I’ve said don’t call me an inspiration, on this blog, and in my life away from blogging, too, so many times. It makes me incredibly uncomfortable. It feels like a slippery slope. I never want to get a big head, or think I’m better than anyone else. I want to stay humble. However, I wrote the word I’m so uncomfortable with in 2010. It wasn’t an accident, or a coincidence. It was bread crumbs, and connection of dots I didn’t see until now.

It was God molding me for this moment.. for this post. Okay, so maybe, I am the word that makes me squirm. It still does, maybe it always will, but okay, God I hear you. I hear you, and the person who has pushed me (more than anyone else) to write my story down to help others, too. To my brother/journey partner: I guess you owe me an “I told you so”, huh? You can have it next time we hang out.

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