I wrote this story shortly after having moved out of state with a close friend to help my parents set their business up in a new studio space. In return my parents offered a roof over our heads and food in the fridge. While out there I had the opportunity to start up my own business and fulfill my dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Unfortunately my friend met her quarter life crisis in the midst of all of this change. My simple question of, "What is your dream and what do you think your first step in achieving that dream is?" sent her running for the hills. This story is the result of my pondering the situation.
Once upon a time…
Once upon a time, not very long ago…there was a door. On one side of the door was a small room. This room was about the size of a broom closet and had one small, low wattage light inside. All the creatures that exist in this kingdom, called the Kingdom of Decision, live in their own small room with one door and one low wattage light. Nobody knows their neighbors or even if they have neighbors.
On the other side of the door can be heard a multitude of noises…
Now for most of the creatures this living situation becomes very lonely. These lonely creatures are faced with two choices; take a chance to open the door and find out what is making the multitude of noises or stay in the room and get comfortable with their fear of those noises. Some of these creatures decided to take their chances and open the door.
The first thing that happened when these creatures opened their door was that they were blinded by the light that came in from outside. After their eyes adjusted they saw a big, bright new kingdom and they took one step outside the door into the Kingdom of Courage. They felt the ground underneath their feet and tested it for solidity. Then they took a second and third step outside the door. They looked around, stretched out their cramped limbs and…closed their doors.
An interesting thing happens when creatures close their doors. Their old door disappears and a new door appears…with a multitude of new noises behind it. The creatures that have left their small rooms tend to figure, they’ve already opened one door and found something better so why not open this new door. When the new door is opened, nobody ever finds a new world because…in the Kingdom of Courage it is understood that the grass is not greener on the other side, the grass gets greener because you decide to see it that way. Instead, the new door leads to a new small room and, in the new small room, various creatures can be found. Some closets have puppies or bears or even people. Every time a door is closed it disappears and a new one appears. So some creatures (mainly humans) spend their whole lives opening doors while other creatures walk away and decide to build a life for themselves.
Here’s where our story begins: in the Kingdom of Decision, inside a small room, with a small, low wattage light and one door with a multitude of noises on the other side. Here we meet a young girl named Beauty Beast or Miss BB. Miss BB has lived in fear of that door for many years. Although Miss BB is unhappy with her life in her small room, she has found her fear of the door much easier to deal with than actually opening the door. So year after year somebody in the Kingdom of Courage opens Miss BB’s door and finds a helpless, scared girl inside. And year after year these creatures decide to go inside the room with Miss BB and care for her. After a short while Miss BB had grown accustomed to these care givers that continually open her door. Miss BB decided that it was much easier to wait for someone else to open the door because who so ever opened her door would inevitably care for her.
One day a small bear named Baby Bear, who lives in the Kingdom of Courage, came across Miss BB’s door. Although Baby Bear and her parents had long ago decided to go off and build a life for themselves, she still occasionally opened doors because sometimes she found good things behind the doors. So Baby Bear opened Miss BB’s door…and just as many in the past had done, she found a helpless, scared girl behind the door. But because Baby Bear was one of the creatures that had gone off to build a life for herself, she didn’t go inside the room. Instead she reached her paw out to Miss BB and said, “Come with me, I can show you a better life outside of that small room.”
Also inside of Miss BB’s closet was a young woman by the name of Alice. Alice had joined Miss BB in the closet a couple years ago to care for Miss BB. When Baby Bear reached her paw out to Miss BB, Miss BB hesitated and looked to Alice for answers. Since Alice had already lived in various parts of the Kingdom of Courage she encouraged Miss BB to go with Baby Bear. “You’ll find new opportunities and a better life in the other world.” Alice said, ”Go with Baby Bear, I’ll leave the door open for you so you can always return if you don’t like it there.” So Miss BB took Baby Bear’s paw and hesitantly stepped into the new world.
Miss BB was so scared in this bright new world that she clung to Baby Bear’s paw very tightly. After a while Baby Bear loosened Miss BB’s hand off of her paw and instead, offered Miss BB her arm to lean on. Too scared to leave the support of Baby Bears arm, Miss BB would only travel elsewhere when Baby Bear came to her and offered her arm to lean upon.
One day Baby Bear introduced Miss BB to her parents, Papa Bear and Mama Bear. Mama Bear looked at Miss BB and asked Baby Bear, “Why does she lean upon your arm so? Does she have a limp?”
“No.” Replied Baby Bear.
“Is she mentally ill and require supervision at all times?” Asked Mama Bear.
“No. She is of sound mind.” Replied Baby Bear.
“Did you accidentally glue your arms together?” Mama Bear asked humorously.
“No.” Replied Baby Bear, “She has had a hard childhood and is afraid to fall.”
Mama Bear believed in people empowering themselves and only offered her help to those who proved themselves to be determined to take responsibility for their own actions. So Mama Bear walked away from Miss BB.
Then Papa Bear came along and Baby Bear said, “Papa Bear, I want you to meet my new friend Miss BB.”
Papa Bear looked at Miss BB leaning on Baby Bear’s arm and asked,” Why does she lean on your arm so? Is she injured?”
“No.” Replied Baby Bear, “She walks fine.”
“Perhaps she is weak from recovering from a recent illness.” Suggested Papa Bear.
Again Baby Bear replied, “No. She is perfectly healthy.”
“Then why,” Papa Bear asked, “does she not separate herself from you?”
“She has had a hard childhood and is afraid to fall.” Replied Baby Bear.
Papa Bear had been a coach for many years and, unlike Mama Bear, was not inclined to walk away from a person in need of self-confidence. So Papa Bear turned to Miss BB and said, “Okay Miss BB, I understand that you have had a hard childhood, but it looks to me as if you are an adult now and no longer a child.”
“Yes I am well over the age of 18.” Replied Miss BB meekly.
“So then why are you so afraid to fall?” Asked Papa Bear, “Based on what my daughter has told me you are neither ill nor injured and are therefore perfectly capable of standing back up again.”
Miss BB replied, “Because when I see others fall, sometimes they hurt other people on their way down and I don’t want to hurt other people.”
Papa Bear let out a grunt, put his hands on his hips, leaned his head down to eye level with Miss BB and had a quizzical look on his face. “So you are afraid of hurting other people?” Papa Bear started, “But you are okay with allowing Baby Bear to take that responsibility for you?”
Now the quizzical look was on Miss BB’s face.
“Sounds pretty selfish to me.” Said Papa Bear.
“I’m not a bad person.” Replied Miss BB.
“I never said you were a bad person,” retorted Papa Bear, “but what you’re doing is selfish. Do you understand that if Baby Bear falls and hurts people on the way down, that you will fall too and hurt those same people?”
Miss BB answered, “But I’m not the one doing the walking.”
“So what you’re saying is that you want Baby Bear to take responsibility for you.” Papa Bear finished.
At this, Baby Bear lowered her arm and backed away from Miss BB, suddenly realizing that Miss BB had been taking advantage of her. Miss BB began to cry and was a very sorry sight before Papa Bear and Baby Bear. Although Mama Bear had already walked away from Miss BB, Papa Bear saw this sorry sight and decided to give Miss BB a chance to change her life. “Okay Miss BB,” reasoned Papa Bear, “I understand that this world can be scary for newcomers so I will offer you food and shelter for one week. In return you are to help out with the family business while building a life for yourself and learning to live independently.”
Miss BB wiped her nose and stopped her tears and agreed to join the three Bears.
On the first day, Miss BB was helping with the family business but seemed to be having some trouble. Mama Bear very politely corrected her but when she walked away, she noticed that Miss BB went back to her old habits.
On the second day, Mama Bear and Papa Bear had a very hard decision to make because the product that Miss BB had produced was not good enough to fill their orders. They corrected Miss BB again but noticed later that she had once again returned to her old habits.
After three days had passed Mama Bear asked Miss BB what kind of progress she was making in building a life for herself.
Miss BB replied, “I must have misunderstood, I thought my job was to help with the family business.”
“Yes, we agreed that was a requirement for your living here for the week,” replied Mama Bear sternly, “But don’t forget, at the end of the week you have to go out on your own and live independently.”
“Okay,” Miss BB said, “I understand.” And Miss BB ran off to her room to cry because Mama Bear was so stern with her.
The next day Baby Bear asked Miss BB why she wasn’t going outside to find a job and a home.
Miss BB said, “I’m working on it but the process seems really difficult.”
“Why don’t you go out and talk to some of the people in the industry,” suggested Baby Bear, “Maybe they have some advice on how to make the process easier.”
Miss BB replied something incomprehensible and then kept to herself for the rest of the day and threw a silent fit because she felt that Baby Bear was treating her like a child.
On the fifth day Baby Bear got married and left home to begin a life with her new husband. Meanwhile, Miss BB stayed with Papa Bear and Mama Bear. By this time Mama Bear couldn’t offer Miss BB anymore work in the family business because Miss BB refused to listen and messed up too many client orders. So Miss BB went into town, presumably to find a job.
On the sixth day Baby Bear called up Papa Bear and Mama Bear to report that she decided to start up her own business and was enjoying her new life. Papa Bear told Mama Bear the good news and their hearts swelled with pride. That night Papa Bear had a talk with Miss BB.
“You know Miss BB, I understand that you have had a hard childhood and are afraid to fall,” started Papa Bear, “But you’re an adult now and you are responsible for whatever happens in your future.”
“I didn’t realize there was so much responsibility involved in being an adult.” Replied Miss BB.
Papa Bear replied, “Responsibility can be hard at times, but you can’t keep running away from it. It’s time to grow up and stop relying on others to take responsibility for you. Now Mama Bear and I have been very generous in offering our home to you but the time has come for you to move out on your own. What are you going to do tomorrow?”
Miss BB began to cry and was a very sorry sight before Papa Bear. And then she ran to her room and cried some more because Papa Bear was so mean for suggesting that she was immature.
On the seventh and final day Baby Bear called to find out where Miss BB was going to work and live. Papa Bear reported that Miss BB ran back to her small room in the Kingdom of Decision never to be seen again.
Baby Bear was so disappointed. She thought if only Miss BB could have opened her eyes could she have made a life for herself. She went back to the place where Alice had left Miss BB’s door open. She caught the door before it disappeared and upon it she hung a plaque.
On this plaque Baby Bear engraved the words:
Anger and Fear are easy,
One can hide in that beast forever,
The beauty of Love and Respect require self-reflection,
Self-Reflection requires honesty and hard work.
There is a beauty and a beast in all of us,
But I am the only one that can bring out the beauty in myself.
Baby Bear hung the plaque on the door with the hope that whom so ever should find Miss BB’s door will read it out loud for Miss BB to hear. Upon hearing it, Baby Bear hoped that one day Miss BB might be able to find the beauty in herself and leave her fears behind.