I’ve always loved to write about stories. Ever since I can remember I’ve been fascinated by how stories are told, how they come to be, and how they play an important role in making sense of life. 

While completing my BA in Film Studies, I took my love of storytelling and started blogging about narrative media analysis. It was thrilling to dig into the details and come out with a whole new perspective on a movie or TV show. I loved what I did, and I wanted to share my findings with whoever I could. 

But there was always a nagging feeling in the back of my mind telling me that surely this wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing with my time. 

A dubious narrative

Yet throughout university, I spent most of my time in and out of classes writing essays on media. I did a lot of scene or even frame-by-frame analysis, pointing out the subtle yet important meanings in text and video that others might not have considered. As a Christian, I felt that God had blessed me with a desire to seek out those details, and I was actively cultivating my skills to become even better at communicating my insights. 

As I wrote about stories, I saw patterns that presented life in easily understood arcs. I  was surrounded by people telling me how to best succeed. In writing, nothing spelled success to me as much as clearly communicating my thoughts and having people connect with them. 

But something was wrong. Though I had a sense of success from communicating well, my underlying narrative of success said that enjoyment was not enough. It wasn’t useful, wasn’t profitable, and it didn’t make for easy conversations with relatives. This implicit narrative demanded that the things I do should get me somewhere. 

I found myself thinking that stories were just a placeholder passion until I found a real job.

The more I continued in school, the more I felt my career options dwindle. I felt less and less able to live “successfully” by coasting off my passions. Real life started to creep in and I couldn’t understand why I was good at something that couldn’t make me successful the way I wanted. 

I wanted to be successful so badly. So badly that I couldn’t make any real steps to improve my life and realize my goals.

This story is killing me

I decided to leave academia after my MA. It was probably one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make. Once I was out of the path to a PhD, my desire to analyze and write became obscured. It felt worthless to write about media without a degree or publication to work towards. 

Because of my Christian upbringing, I knew deep down that God had a plan for my passions and gifts. But it seemed like a far off plan, a sort of “this will be important for you later” kind of plan.

Read more: God has a wonderful plan B for your life

Little did I know that God’s plans would take me into the most uncertain and toughest time of my life. I worked a degrading customer service job far removed from my career interests. I struggled with intense depression and a sense of hopelessness. I lived away from family and friends who could only console me through screens, not sure if I was overexaggerating my circumstances.

My joy for writing had completely vanished. I would open up my blog only to look blankly at stats and close it again thinking, “I’ll be in a place to write again soon.”

I didn’t write anything for over a year and a half. I felt a deep sense of loss as I told people that I did write, but just not at the moment. According to my old narrative of success, I had doubly failed: I had no career and no passion.

Discovering a new narrative

As my inability to write continued, I grew more and more listless. It felt like my one talent, writing, was being stripped away. I was in the long and grueling process of mourning my past self, and the promise of success that I had worked for.

Yet as I mourn and let go of an old narrative, I’m learning a new one. 

I’m learning that I’m more than the way I succeed—or fail—to live up to my standards. I’m more because I belong to Christ. He is the foundation for all else I can possibly do.

I’m more because I belong to Christ. 

In the Bible, a pastor named Paul writes to a group of Christians and says: 

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 1:6

Contrary to what I believed about success, Paul isn’t talking about personal completion happening through my work or my writing. Here, the success comes from who I will be through Christ—not just my accomplishments or my habits, but my whole self. 

My heart is changing through him. In this process, I’m becoming more Christ-like, more holy. And that’s better than any old “success.”

Trusting for a next chapter

Even now, I’m struggling to fully embrace God’s goodness and to truly know that he has a plan for me. 

I’m unemployed and faced with empty days full of worry. The world is complicated, networking feels fruitless, and most days I’m too exhausted or overwhelmed to make any moves at all. But I am becoming more familiar with God’s desires for me. 

Read more: Even if I never land the perfect job, let me be faithful in frustration

God gave me the ability to truly listen when he stripped away the narrative I had been telling myself. As I listen and lean into what he says, I’m finding new ways to approach my dread.

I’m putting continued effort into learning more about God and trusting in him. I’m beginning to see hints of how living for him can give me the satisfaction that I previously looked for in career and accomplishments. 

I’m learning through fits of doubt and a lot of redirection that I’m valued by God for who he made me to be, and not for writing achievements to list on my resume. 

Read more: Loved even when unlovable

It’s tough. But I know how much God has done for me—and how little I know about the future. 

My story isn’t over yet, and that gives me hope.

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About the Author

Victoria Berndt

Victoria is an affiliate writer and editor with Power to Change based in Montreal. She has an MA in Film Studies thanks to a lifelong passion for storytelling. She loves to cook, crochet, and spend quality time with her husband and cat. Read more of her media analysis at https://thequotorium.wordpress.com

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