Do you ever hear the life story of someone whose work you admire and get seriously bummed on their behalf?
Well, that’s 100% how I feel about Hans Christian Andersen.
I knew nothing about his personal life when I first started reading his work. I only knew that his fairy tales, like all fairy tales at that time in my life, helped me to feel that there must be some different way of living.
That it was possible to live every day for the ones you love without feeling suicidal. Yeah, I said it. I was suicidal back then.
When I did finally learn about his life, I felt sick to my stomach.
Here was someone — one of my heroes — who had devoted their life to their chosen expression of faith (poetry and fairy tales), who was perpetually unable to maintain a deep and abiding connection with anyone, and who was deeply affected by that.
His stories are filled with justice (worldly or divine) for those who were not appreciated for their true selves, and litanies of hope for all the things that time can bring.
But no one ever got “theirs” for mistreating him. Time never brought him the love and devotion he so clearly craved.
He was — for all intents and purposes — a very conflicted hermit.
That’s something I think we can all relate to from time to time. We need our space, and we need connection, and sometimes/a lot of times we need those two things simultaneously.
But today, we have this weird thing called Social Media, a way of staying hidden in our blanket forts while simultaneously connecting with people all over the world.
So I took a look at Andersen’s personas and made for you a little presentation of:
- The 3 aspects of his personality that he shared openly;
- How those things seem to be connecting on Instagram just now; and,
- The little shift in perspective and life that could yield.