03/07/2013 07:17 am ET Updated May 07, 2013

Day 7: 31 Days of Daily Inspiration From Brilliant Women


Daily Inspiration: Day 7 of 31 Days

"You can't change the music of your soul." -- Katharine Hepburn (actress, 1909-2003)

You can't change who you are. Not the bone and marrow of you, not the deepest desires of your spirit and the passions of your soul. You can change the superficial stuff -- the habits, expressions, the ways you've developed over the years. What you've learned you can unlearn, but you can't undo your DNA. And our desires and dreams are bound up in our blood.

When I was younger, and full of self-doubt, I tried to change myself. Writing wasn't a particularly easy profession to pursue, so I strived to shape my mind in a more sensible direction. Surely I could be something else instead? A teacher, a lawyer, a professional somebody? So I attempted to persuade my heart that it could be happy and fulfilled doing other things with its one life. I pushed myself painfully through a proper education, an Oxford degree, then applied for sensible jobs and even did a few of them. But I was miserable and couldn't convince myself I wasn't.

When I gave up trying to be anyone else but myself, I was overcome with relief. Yes, I was scared too, terrified that I'd be broke and unsuccessful for the rest of my life. But, most of all, I just felt joyous relief. Of course, those years in the writing wilderness weren't easy. They were long and full of rejection and disappointment. Ultimately though, it didn't matter. For, as long as I'm playing the music of my soul, everything else is okay.

Inspiration From Brilliant Women

For more by Menna van Praag, click here.

For more inspirational quotes, click here.