I decided awhile ago that people are like puzzles. There are many pieces that make up a person and his/her personality and lives. What complicates things is the different kinds of pieces.

The corner pieces are the foundation or core of the person - their most deeply held beliefs. These are the pieces that are usually set pretty early on in life, but sometimes get jostled around by life. If that happens they don't get set until later in life, or sometimes they get jostled so much they never get set at all.

The straight pieces are the paths that a person follows. They effectively box in a person to a certain personality type. Decisions made while following these paths define the puzzle of the person.

Then there are the middle pieces. This are where the puzzle gets interesting. Once a person has his/her corners and box set it usually means they will head straight to an orderly finish. But sometimes those middle pieces never get set because each person gets to choose what their puzzle will look like.

There are probably some who have their puzzle finished early. These are the people who figure out what they want to be when they grow up in early childhood. These are the people who don't have any jostling going on during their formative years. They know what they want and do what they have to do to get it and nothing really stands in their way.

I think the majority of "normal" people get their corners and straight pieces set by the time they become an adult, but the middle pieces present a problem. They may get quite a few of them set, but then meet someone who tells them they're all wrong so they go about the messy business of jostling their puzzle themselves. Sometimes this is okay, but the majority of the time this leaves people in a quagmire of self-doubt and loathing. Not good!

Then there are some who never get any of the pieces set. They go through life trying to set them, but then come across another person or idea that makes them change their mind - again. These people are the most frustrating with which to deal, because they can change everything about themselves in an instant and for no other reason than someone or something else told them to do it.

So where do you and I fit in? Well, I can't answer for you - you'll have to figure that out on your own.

My foundation pieces were set fairly early on, but got a good jostling when I entered adulthood. I'm pretty sure the corner pieces are set and the straight pieces have been laid with only a few detours. But, oh, those middle pieces...

I almost forgot to mention that others also like to insert their own pieces into your puzzle. Most of the time these are well-meaning people like parents and other relatives, but they don't understand what kind of damage they're doing. My parents gave me a whole puzzle's worth of pieces - I guess they didn't understand that I was born with my own - and none of them matched me. I've had to spend most of my adult life trying to decide which ones to keep and which ones to throw away - a confusing and daunting task.

It has only been recently that I've felt like I've been able to make the majority of my puzzle pieces fit properly. It feels like I've spent my whole life trying to make certain pieces fit - for the benefit of others, certainly not myself. Sometimes I even think they do fit, but I know deep down they don't, won't, and can't. I don't feel right until I take the piece out and most often discard it.

But just last week I made the decision to give myself a writing schedule for my second book, Consequence. I always thought schedules killed creativity, but I had to do something because I wasn't getting anywhere. I was letting someone else's puzzle pieces hold me back. Since then I've written over 8,000 words - in a matter of days!

But more importantly, I was able to put several of my puzzle pieces into place. My puzzle pieces. And not just the middle ones. These pieces are so fundamentally me that I don't know where my life would have ended up if I hadn't started writing. I know I wouldn't have been happy - not in the deep down, content with life kind of happy.

So I implore you - find your puzzle pieces. Find what will make you whole - not anyone else, forget about everyone else. Find what makes you, you and then do what it takes to put the pieces into place. I think you'll find it very easy once you quit fighting it.

Published by Cathy Langer