We put so much pressure on ourselves to have life sorted by the time we are 30. We expect to have found our ideal job, the perfect partner and have just the right outfit to match. But have you noticed that no masterpiece, whether film or music, reaches the climax or comes to the crescendo by the end of the first act.
The first act of a story is about the hook. Setting the scene. It’s when we meet the characters. It includes the inciting incident, that moment when the story starts or provokes a change in direction. The first act in music is when themes are introduced to be developed further on. The second act is building the tension and complications. Here the story progresses. And finally the third act is about the Punch line. The pay off.
Throughout the first act of my life (0-30 years), I have found myself wishing I was already into the second act. Wishing I could skip ahead without having to take all the steps in between. But that risks missing critical character development moments and missing my inciting incident.
Maybe you are leaving high school, are you overwhelmed by the options out there for careers and lifestyles? Are you scared to try new things? Are you uncertain about where you fit in the world?
Or maybe you are in the first few years of working: Do you spend time thinking about what other people have? Do you find yourself living a life that other people think you should? Do you feel like you might be missing an opportunity?
All of these questions, if they spin out of control, can stop us from being curious and courageous and living out our own First Act. If we do this, we risk not developing our character and completely missing our own inciting incident.
My hope is that we can all be curious and courageous; that is:
Taking intentional steps and celebrating the milestones
Loving and learning from every season
Seizing the moment to get every experience that we can now (each step builds on the previous one, we can’t skip steps - we fall over doing that).
If you still don’t know exactly where you fit in the world, it’s ok. Be patient with yourself. It’s time to set the scene and explore your character. Best of all, every story is different. Keep your eyes in your lane. The inciting incident, which is when things really start to change looks different for all of us.