Conversations From Within | SHANNON PURSER

words // Olga Martinova

It happened when I was looking for a literary agent for my book, a novel which I had written some years prior. Just because you write something doesn’t necessarily mean you want to expose yourself to the public, to judgment. It’s never easy to put yourself out there, for everyone to see your “naked soul.” It was a challenge and a test – it made sense at the end.

After many answers from agents, which weren’t altogether discouraging, there came one that drew my attention. Not because it gave me the answer I wanted, but it gave me the answer I Needed.

It said, “You have a voice, keep it going.” From that moment on I didn’t care much for words. I started listening to my inner voice and trying to hear its sound.

We all have our inner voice. It’s probably the most important thing one has. But how many people even know that it exists in them? We are looking for the answers: the meaning of life, love, the beauty around us. We are seeking answers in all the wrong places when they all lie inside us. Instead of wasting our precious time paying so much attention to the distracting noises of the outside world, we need to turn to the sound of our inner voice: to hear its music, discover the beauty of it, and live our life by its beat.

words // Shannon Purser

I didn’t have many friends growing up. Admittedly, I was a pretty strange kid and probably not the easiest person to be around. I was socially awkward, overly sensitive, and a total nerd. So, instead of socializing, I spent most of my time with my head buried in a book (usually one about magic or mermaids or talking animals). In those pages, I was transported to a different world. I felt emotions I’d never felt before and lived lives totally different than my own. Those books were my escape and my refuge.

All I wanted was to be like the heroes and heroines in those stories. I longed to be special, to be chosen by some mystical force or fulfill an ancient destiny. I wanted to do something extraordinary. Unfortunately, I never got an admission letter to a wizarding school or discovered a hidden door to a magical realm, but the voice within me that longed for more was on the right track.

Eventually, my love for books lead to a love for movies and TV. When I realized that acting would allow me to be a character in a story like I’d always dreamt, I knew it was the career for me.

I did musical theater, church plays, and acting classes. One fateful day, I signed with a local acting agency. It was one of the most validating moments of my life. I was sure that I’d made it! But the jobs didn’t come for several years. I auditioned and auditioned, and nothing happened. Eventually, I started working at a movie theater because if I couldn’t be in movies, I wanted to be as close to them as possible. And I waited.

I certainly dealt with my share of doubts. I wondered if I’d ever get a part. I wondered what I was doing wrong. I worried that I was being naive for having a dream this big. And yet, the same voice within me that longed for purpose assured me that I was meant to act, one way or another. I guess it was right, because one day I got the part that would change everything.

My life looks totally different now than it did a few years ago. I have the job of my dreams and I’m overwhelmingly thankful for it. That being said, there are still days when I struggle to hear that inner voice.

There are times when I’m overwhelmed with doubt and anxiety, when I feel insecure and unworthy. At those times, I’m thankful for the people in my life who help me navigate my feelings. And when I’m done listening to their voices, I take some time alone to find my own.
Photography by Miles Schuster