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  • Caroline Cutchall

Overcoming My Discomfort to Embrace Right Where I'm Supposed to Be

The following post comes from one of our senior interns, Caroline. We love periodically posting student writing, serving as a platform for their voices on writing and wellness. Perhaps even more thrilling than hitting the "publish" button, though, is the hands-on work of the drafting and revision process--a chance for them to experience how writing and revising really can be a dynamic, collaborative process.


--Her Voice at the Table


City of stars, there’s so much that I can’t see… who knows? - Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone


This past September, I was lying in bed one night wondering what movie to watch. My friends had recommended La La Land countless times, but I was so terrified to watch it. I knew it was about two people with a rollercoaster of a love story, and I couldn’t bear the thought of knowing that the ending didn’t match typical love stories.


You can perceive the ending of La La Land in one of two ways: an overly depressing ending that disrupts the predictable endings of romance movies or a beautiful representation of how love and relationships bring out the best in people in unconventional ways.


Mia and Sebastian, drawn together again by the melody of the piano, lock eyes with each other, their gazes full of happiness for one another, regret for losing each other, and wishful longings for each other in a different world at a different time.

The two characters, Sebastian and Mia, meet in a restaurant one night, drawn together by the captivating melody of a song played on the piano, which is the main song of the movie that draws these characters together like magnets. As the couple sense and test the chemistry through their shared passions for reaching their goals, they fall in love along the way, helping each other transform their unattainable dreams into tangible realities. Even though it may sound easy to chase one’s dreams with the support of someone else alongside you, the characters find that chasing their dreams requires sacrifice—the biggest one being the sacrifice of time spent together in cultivating and growing their relationship. In time, Sebastian and Mia reach their goals—Sebastian opens his jazz club, and Mia becomes a famous actress. Both attain their dream, but at the cost of their relationship. In the ending scene, Mia walks into Sebastian’s club with her husband and career as a successful actress. Mia and Sebastian, drawn together again by the melody of the piano, lock eyes with each other, their gazes full of happiness for one another, regret for losing each other, and wishful longings for each other in a different world at a different time.



You are right where you are supposed to be 


This year for the National Honor Society officer conference in Washington, D.C., one of the guest speakers prompted students to write an encouraging message on a sticky note to display on the wall for other students to see. Rather than just writing the first cheesy quote or pick-me-up phrase that came to mind, the speaker encouraged everyone to think deeply about a reminder that uplifted and stuck with them throughout a difficult time. After a few minutes, I started to give up trying to find the perfect quote, but then I remembered I could write a quote that wasn’t necessarily as “fancy-sounding” or as long as other people’s words, but still was immensely powerful in its meaning. Part of the reason the reminder is so powerful is because it is accommodating to any person, in any life circumstance. After I wrote this phrase, I looked back at my sticky note, with goose bumps trailing up my arm, determined that whoever read my reminder would instantly feel reassured, motivated, and certain: “You are right where you are supposed to be.”





These words have always provided me guidance and direction in moments where it feels like I am on a path where I either keep getting lost or lose the drive to keep going.  But why do these words heal me? How do they heal me? Perhaps it is because this reminder points to a greater reality that all humans have an intrinsic doubt planted in their minds, pushing them to constantly aspire for more. Humans struggle with a never-ending cycle of wanting to be somewhere else, whether that is manifested physically or metaphorically. That “somewhere else” can be aspiring to reach more goals for different purposes, trying to go to this college to make money for that reason…. The list never ends. In fact, it continues to grow exponentially with every challenge, setback, and even positive, reinforcing moment a person experiences.


What if we shifted our perspective to see our current journey as the right journey for where we are now? A journey that does not involve pursuing something more and constantly trying to step out of one path in hopes of experiencing something better on the new path?  


As I look back on the previous chapters of my life, I notice how every journey has played a monumental role in shaping my understanding of myself and how I perceive my world. It is rewarding to experience this type of retrospective appreciation for my experiences, but in the moment, it can almost feel impossible to take myself out of my own shoes and see my experiences for what they offer versus what they provide in the moment.


We weaken our mindsets in wanting to get out of discomforting, limiting circumstances at all costs. When any sort of pain enters the frame, people run. They get out. But it is in these moments where we experience the foundational blocks of learning and growth that allow us to tackle the paths that lay ahead.


Someone in the crowd could be the one you need to know -La La Land Cast


For me, the most significant components that make learning and growth the most gratifying and worthwhile are the people involved in the process. Every person in someone’s life plays a definite role—a role that can never be reproduced or recreated.


Part of the beauty of relationships does not rest solely on one’s ability to feel loved and valued, which are aspects everyone seeks in relationships. Relationships are also beautiful because they teach people more about themselves and their world. It sounds much simpler than it actually is, but in reality, learning moments involve challenge, setback, and failure to make growth fully possible.


It can be easy to look back on my old relationships and wish that things turned out better—that this person from my past could still be in my present and future; that this situation wouldn’t have ended the way it did. But what I have noticed when sitting with regrets and painful longings is that I miss out on the real value that these relationships taught and offered me: The ability to stand up for myself and what I believe in. The ability to define clear, healthy boundaries. The ability to be okay with maintaining healthy distances from toxic, overwhelming situations.


These are only a few skills I have learned and continued to strengthen throughout the course of my current and flourishing relationships. Perceiving the people in my life as elements working together in shaping my overall understanding of myself and the world around me has been one of the most gratifying mindset shifts I have experienced. Every person contributes something different to my life, according to their unique personalities, wisdom, and perception of the world, and because of their diverse skill set, a person’s perspective of the world is a composite of several different ideas from a variety of external influences.


A little chance encounter could be the one you’ve waited for -Emma Stone


Love doesn’t go away after a chapter closes, but it manifests itself in a different way through the values and lessons it instills in each person. Mia and Sebastian were able to attain their dreams because of each other. They were both right where they needed to be from the moment they locked eyes in the restaurant to the moment they said goodbye to each other at the ending scene. They were right where they needed to be to learn from each other, grow from each other, and ultimately love each other through that.


Looking back, I now see why I was scared to press play on my Netflix screen. I was scared like most of us are to face the reality that picturesque endings and solely “positive” relationships are not representative of the extent of what relationships truly are and can offer. In fact, the repetitive happy endings of Hallmark movies actually rob us of our understanding of the real beauty of relationships. Instead of showing the difficult scenes where someone is challenged or fails, movies tend to give us the ending we are familiar with, which is the ending we think we want. Propaganda in our society fuels what humans want versus what they need to be exposed to—which is the truth that relationships and people in our lives each play a defined role. Some of those roles may be messy, toxic, or demanding. But it is in these types of experiences, combined with the positive, reinforcing ones, where we gain a healthy, overall understanding of ourselves and truths about this world.


My sticky note on the wall of the NHS student leadership conference was one of many, but writing those nine words unfolded a collection of stories and reminders that point to the permanent reality that we are truly right where we are supposed to be. Always and at any point in time.


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