On the Importance of Being Yourself
This world will tell you who you’re supposed to be before you’re even old enough to realize it’s happening. People put labels on you based on your gender, your preferences, the neighborhood you grow up in, the amount of money your family makes, the school you go to, and how well you do at that school. They will decide if you’re a dreamer or a doer, and they will establish a value to each label based on their own opinions. They will decide if it’s worth putting extra energy into you, or if the fact that you simply learn differently, or view the world differently, from others, means you’re not worth the time, or that you’re lazy, or that you “just don’t get it.” They will call you high-maintenance because you don’t like certain things, or they will call you a doormat because you let people walk all over you. You will often hear two opposite things about yourself uttered in the same breath—high-maintenance and a doormat; a know-it-all and unintelligent; elitist and incapable—but they will rarely be good things (a dreamer AND a doer; street smart AND book smart), unless you’re blessed to have an encourager in your life.
Why is this? Why do people force other people into boxes? Even from infancy, someone will have an opinion about who you are and what you should do with your life, and those words they utter, they impact you more than you realize.
This is a common theme in my latest young adult novel, Remember Me, and it’s also something I’ve been personally working through for a long time. Early on in my publishing journey, I tried to change my writing to fit what I thought other people were looking for, or what other people thought I should write. The revelation regarding the importance of labels vs. the importance of being myself happened when I got my first deal on a book I had written entirely for myself. That book was my debut novel, The Wood, which was published by Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan in 2017. The Wood centers on a girl protecting time-traveling portals in the wood behind her house, and there’s nothing about it that’s really typical of a specific genre. Instead, it’s a blend of genres all rolled up into one. Horror and romance. Contemporary and fantasy. Time-travel that takes place in present day. I didn’t expect it to sell. I wrote it because I had to.
I wrote it because it was me.
I can say the same for Remember Me. It’s a blend of genres that’s best described as the horror of The Shining meets the romance of Titanic, but it has other things I love too: ballet, Edwardian couture, a strong father-daughter relationship, a historical timeline and a contemporary one, as well as a touch of time-travel, handled a little differently from most of the time-travel books out there. It’s curses and star-crossed lovers and vengeful ghosts. It’s everything I have ever loved, every inspiration, every old building and every old photograph that has ever whispered its secrets to me, everything that has ever made up who I am as a person and how I see the world. The Wood was definitely the most “me” thing I had written up to the point that it sold, but Remember Me has my very soul ingrained in its binding. The ironic thing is, neither book would have happened if I’d kept trying to be, or write, or say, what other people wanted me to. It was only when I was brave enough to be myself that my books were able to reach the world.
I write this to the person who has let other people’s labels and opinions hinder their lives for far too long, because this revelation in my writing spilled over into every other area of my life. When I really sat down and thought about it, I couldn’t believe the number of words that had been spoken over me throughout my life, good and bad, that had shaped me into the person I am today. Without meaning to, I let other people dictate my worth, as well as my potential. Never mistake this simple truth: Words are the most powerful tool the human race possesses. Words can spur people to victory or defeat. To self-esteem or self-mutilation.
To life or death.
The saying, “There’s only one you,” has been uttered so many times, it’s become a cliché, and it’s often undermined by the very people who say it, because they’ll say that to you in one breath, and then tear you down in the next, often without meaning to. They’ll slap that label back on you quicker than you can blink, not because they’re purposefully vindictive, but because, for some reason, people like to keep other people in their boxes. It scares them when someone doesn’t fit in that box anymore.
Which is why I’m challenging you to hear that phrase again—“There’s only one you”—not as a cliché, but as a transformative and irreversible truth. There is only one you in this world, not just for now, but for all time. There is only one you, with your specific gifts, specific circumstances, specific calling. Stop letting other people tell you what to do with your life.
Break the box.
Don’t waste the one life God has given you by clipping your wings in order to measure up to other people’s expectations of you.
Remember Meby Chelsea Bobulski
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: August 6th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Horror
In this eerie and suspenseful YA, a teen girl discovers what connects her to the hotel she calls home as horrifying visions lead her to the truth.
Nell Martin is moving again, this time to the Winslow Grand Hotel, built in 1878. As Nell is settling in, strange things begin to happen. Doors lock of their own accord, writing appears on bathroom walls--and most horrifying of all--visions of a dead boy permeate her waking life. Thinking it was her mind playing tricks on her, she soon finds the past and the present colliding as she learns horrific details of a murder that happened at the hotel in 1905 involving a girl named Lea.
Nell and a mysterious bellboy must relive that day in hopes of finally breaking a curse that imprisons them both. And Nell discovers what truly links her to the history of the Winslow Grand Hotel.
Chelsea Bobulski was born in Columbus, Ohio, and raised on Disney movies, classic musicals, and Buckeye pride. She’s always had a penchant for the fantastical, the stories that teach us there is more to this world than meets the eye. She has a soft spot for characters with broken pasts, strange talents, and a dash of destiny in their bones. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in history, she promptly married her high school sweetheart and settled down in Northwest Ohio with her notebooks and daydreams and copious amounts of chocolate. THE WOOD is her debut novel.
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