Origin Stories

I love beginnings.

In fact, I dare to assert that everyone loves beginnings.

It’s why people tell the “relationship story” at weddings, why authors agonize over opening lines. It’s why students deviate from the standard yoga-pants-and-sweatshirt routine on the first day of school (even though we all know you’ll be dragging yourself out of bed fifteen minutes before school begins the rest of the year).

I am a sucker for origin stories. Give me a choice between a book and its sequel, and nine times out of ten I’ll go for the original. I love the origins. I love lines like:

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“And my demotion to comic relief.”

Because those lines make something click in your brain. That’s the moment you realize who these people are and how they’re related. You know their entire life story—how they will grow and develop alongside one another—and you are finally able to see them take their very first steps together. The best part is, they don’t know what’s ahead of them yet.

That, certainly, is the best part of a good origin story.

Why? Because it’s so rooted in the truth of our own lives. With all of these beginnings happening all around us, how are we supposed to know which ones will blossom and become a significant facet of our existence?

Going into college, I knew I was in for many beginnings. I was entering a place that was entirely unfamiliar to me, surrounded by thousands of people I didn’t know. Making friends seemed impossible.

Here I am, one year later, with two of the closest friends I’ve ever had.

How did we meet? Let me tell you:

There’s Elena—we ended up in the lunch line together. We fumbled through an awkward conversation wherein we discovered we both had done theatre in high school. We smiled too much and nodded too much and altogether were much too nice to each other. In an effort to try and forge a connection, I’m fairly certain I lied about participating in improv. After our conversation, I was honestly convinced we would never speak to each other again.

Then there’s Jess—after not speaking much at lunch, we somehow ended up walking to the CVS together. I stood around idly while she bought shampoo and other small items, wondering why a girl that well-dressed was hanging around me. I was convinced for about two days that her name was Jennifer.

Now, we could fill a book or two with our adventures of this past year. Somehow those beginnings became middles and circumstances became friendships. It’s hard to believe that just one year ago, our origin story began right under our noses, and we couldn’t even see it. We can look back on that day and see ourselves unaware, now fascinated by hindsight.

Many of the friends I’ve talked to about going into their first year of college have expressed the same fears; it’s impossible to expect what will happen when you take those baby steps into a new life. In reality, there’s no need to worry about establishing beginnings; they just happen. The first few weeks of college were full of things like this. Sometimes you find acquaintances because they are the first people you see as you run screaming down the hallway, terrified of the cockroach that has just appeared in your sink.

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Given the state of most college dorm rooms, a cockroach was actually the least of our worries.

Life is made up of thousands upon thousands of beginnings. Some will develop more than others, but each and every one is an opportunity. You never know how or when your own origin story will begin—but isn’t that part of the fun?

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