August 15, 2017


I have a confession to make: Hanson’s newest single, “I Was Born,” didn’t sit well with me at first. Sure, it’s uplifting, inspiring, and catchier than the flu, but something in its empowering lyrics is just a little bit depressing to the semi-directionless almost thirty-something part of me that has no clue what she’s doing with her life. Do? Go? Be? Sure. I’m all for the excitement of one-off action verbs. But asking me to think about what I was “born” to do or to identify something I've done that no one else in existence has done before? That’s a bit grandiose for my current list of accomplishments. I came away from my first listen ultimately thinking this is a great message for kids…too bad it’s going to send adult me into an early mid-life crisis.

Really, that little bit of a push towards action isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s probably part of what Hanson hoped to accomplish by extending the “I Was Born” challenge to us in the first place. It’s a useful reminder that we’ve still got some time to do all of those things we haven’t bothered to do yet, but not if we don’t get out there and start making them happen. Sometimes being shown the reality of your situation is a necessary tool in being able to change it. But there’s another side of that reality, and I think it’s important not to get so caught up in a frantic rush of bucket list items that we forget a more important truth: that every single one of us has already done, gone, and been exactly who we were meant to be whether or not we’ve jumped out of a plane or written a best-selling novel.

The truth is not everyone was born for a capital letter existence like ASTRONAUT or PRESIDENT (or dare I say, HANSON), and plenty of us don't even realize the absolutely crucial quieter roles we're filling every single day. Parent, teacher, supporter, believer, friend. You don’t have to perform a miracle surgery to save someone’s life or have a physics degree to make an impact on the world. Maybe I'm not the only blogger or Hanson fan or failed teacher in the world, and I'm certainly not the only one who has ever been to the Grand Canyon or Disney World or had the guts to hold a giant python. But I'm the only one who has ever been the sum of all of my individual parts and experiences. And as alluring as it is to think about being the first or only one to accomplish something, isn't it those fragments of shared experiences that allow us to connect with each other in the first place? "Only" can be a pretty lonely word.

I also can't forget that Hanson has been inspiring me long before “I Was Born” existed. They were filling my head with hopes and crazy plots years before I had a degree or independence or the capacity to regret something I haven’t done. I’ve already climbed metaphorical mountains and literal waterfalls because of them. I’ve followed them to ~25 states and four countries. I’ve visited Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon and walked barefoot in dozens of cities across the United States for a worthy cause. Because of them, I have continued to write and find my voice beyond the days of required school assignments. They’ve indirectly made me into a writer, an adventurer, a volunteer, and a friend. They’ve helped shape my most important role and perhaps the only thing I’m sure I was born to be: myself. So while we're out there blazing new trails on the MOE tour and picking up the proverbial gauntlet that Hanson has thrown down, I think it’s also important not to forget the things we’ve already done, the places we’ve already gone, and the people we’ve always been. I'm thankful for the years of inspiration this band has already brought me and for many more to come. Here's to challenging, encouraging, and embracing not only ourselves, but each other.

I'll end with some of my favorite inspiring words from Isaac Hanson that remind me of two important things: that I was born for a reason, and that it's okay if I don't know what that is just yet.

"You have a purpose. You were born for a reason. You were made just the way you are, perfectly and beautifully just as you are. Now if there is something in your heart or in your head to do, something you have been dismissing…take baby steps. Begin. Write it down, and try and do it. It doesn’t have to be a big thing…DO IT. This week. Right now. Begin this process and do it. I am encouraging you as your friend to move forward with that idea. To move forward with that purpose." 
 -Isaac Hanson, Grace Unknown Podcast 


asphodelia said...

Great post, Holly. I think I've said it on Twitter before how the whole challenge frenzy made me feel inadequate (not to mention, I found the Fanson Frenzy of jumping off buildings and doing 'crazy' stuff intensely annoying). You're talking about being directionless , mentioned a mid-life crisis. Well, I've been in that place for longer than you have and I'm pretty much still there, so...what was I born to do? But reading your blog, I have achieved a lot of things over the years, small things that will be of no consequence to anyone else but me. And like you, Hanson have inspired me to do things that I never thought I was capable of - travelling to far away places on my own, developing my writing, hell - I even moved to the opposite side of the country as an indirect consequence to becoming a Hanson fan.
So, no, you don't need to know for sure what you were born to do. Not everybody has such a clear plan.

There are other aspects of this challenge 'thing' that don't sit well with me, but that are probably going to attract the wrath of many fans if mention them. Suffice to say, I think the challenge is allowing another opportunity for fans to try and get attention on themselves and hopefully get a sprinkling of Hanson magic dust as a consequence. But eh, each to their own. The challenge is a bandwagon I have no interest in getting onto.

Holly said...

I think I'm sitting comfortably somewhere on the fence. I love the do/go/be concept and appreciate the added motivation. I've done a lot because of Hanson, but I've also been to far too many cities where all I saw was a sidewalk and a front row, so I think I will let it push me to do more sightseeing and try some fun new experiences along the way (just not necessarily life-threatening ones). I just can't fully connect with the part about being "born" to do a specific thing. I'd rather listen to the song in the context of Isaac's "You Matter" lecture (and Grace Unknown Podcast) and think about it in terms of being born to be an individual that brings my own value to the world without having to be the best or the only at anything. I like the idea of being born to do a specific thing and that maybe I just don't know what it is yet, but I think a lot of people just never know what that purpose is, and trying to force one or hunt one down is where we wind up feeling inadequate like you said.

Holly said...

Also, general disclaimer: I know this post comes with the risk of coming off like a special snowflake of a person who can't handle failure or disappointment (the more I read it, the more Barney's "You Are Special" song comes to mind). I just think it's important not to let a well-meaning message make you feel bad about yourself just because it may not apply to you in the traditional sense, and it's worth looking at from a different perspective or at least realizing that someone else feels the same way.

Viktoria said...

Such a great post. It says everything I wanted to say about this subject, only you put it better than I could've ever done. There are so many challenges in everyday life, I really feel no need for the crazy stuff. Also I have no idea what specific thing I was born to do, and up until the release of this song I guess I hadn't even thought about it all that much. The song added some kind of pressure, but you just helped me get rid of it :)

I just read your disclaimer comment too, and you really hit the nail on the head there (is that even a correct expression in English? If not, sorry!) with not letting well-meaning messages make you feel bad about yourself just because it may not apply to you. Well said! I really don't think you come across as a person who can't handle failure. But then again, I am among the ones who totally get where you're coming from in the first place.

Erin Pocock said...

i completely understand. :) and i love that quote too! love the series. :)