storytelling

Everyone has a story within them — a truth that can, and should be told. Each person also has a unique, personal voice with which to share his story. Sometimes that voice is loud and boisterous and people are forced to stop and listen. Often though, the voice is quieter, sometimes even just a whisper, and people have to strain to identify the story, the truth being expressed. For some it takes an immense amount of courage to unravel the fear, and believe in the validity of their own story. Others mask and suppress their truth with drugs, alcohol, fitness, work, or even just TV. Still others struggle to find the right medium — the conduit through which to tell their story, to share their reality. But, once an individual finds her medium and successfully shares her story, it is always beautiful.

I have met people for whom their story is meant to be shared on an individual level. When these people tell their story, beauty and grace fill the air and you listen. You listen because you know there is a deeper truth hidden in the message he is delivering about his lived experience.

I have also met people that have a story meant for the world. Stories of triumph and overcoming. Stories of faithfulness and grace. Stories of seeking and finding, or of overcoming failure time and time again. The stories of these people are some of the greatest the world has to offer. And yet, they are stories the world may never hear. Some of these people struggle with finding the correct medium. But, more often than not these stories don’t get shared for more tragic reasons. We get caught up in the busy-ness of life. We are scared of rejection, or what other people will think. Little voices in our heads tell us our story isn’t valid, that our story doesn’t matter — other people deserve to have their story told more. And yes, it is true, sometimes our job is to listen. But, sometimes our job is to speak — to express our voice, our truth, our reality, and share it with the world.

Finding your voice is not an easy process though. At least it wasn’t for me. I imagine finding your voice is not easy for most people. Not only do you have to overcome self-doubt and naysayers and fear, you also have to consider your audience, and find the right medium for which to share your story. Some people share their story with a paintbrush or clay. Others with a sweet melody or unique beat. I have even seen scientists express their stories beautifully in the pages of scientific journals.

My medium is, and always has been, words. I write. For many years I had an anonymous blog. While the the urge within me to write was strong, I was scared. I was scared of how my words may impact, hurt, and potentially drive away other people, especially people I care about. I was scared that my understanding of events and moments and people and ideas would change and, as they change, I would regret things I had written. At some point though, I realized that public writing does not have to mean I know everything about all things. Any written piece is just a snapshot in time of the things the writer thinks, knows, and understands. Armed with that realization, the urge within me became so strong I stopped holding back. I decided to just write — to write my truth, to lay myself bare, to let the world (or at least my Facebook friends) see me just as I am. At that point, I felt like I had nothing to lose.

It has been an interesting experience. At times I have been surprised, humbled, and overwhelmed at the responses I have received. People have told me to write more and that my words are inspiring. I am the most surprised and humbled when people send me a personal note to let me know a how a post may have resonated with them or inspired them. I am equally honored when an atheist, agnostic, or theist shares thoughts with me about faith.

At other moments I have wondered if I made the biggest possible mistake by sharing so much of myself. I have hovered over the buttons to erase everything or even just change the privacy settings. I feel vulnerable, exposed, and scared. Sharing my story so openly is daunting. To reinforce my instinct to flee are the negative responses I have encountered. I have been unfriended and unfollowed. People have told me I am crazy, that my blog is nothing more than a “pity me” party and I need to “just get over it” and move on with my life. I’m not so tough — if I can incite these thoughts and feelings in people, what does that mean? Maybe I really should just crawl back into my shell.

Ultimately, there is no way for me to know how each post will be received and by whom. It is not my job, or even my desire, to dictate how others feel about my words. It is simply my desire to share my lived experience, to develop my voice, and to speak my truth.

Storytelling is a great human tradition. Sharing our stories brings us together, it helps us to relate to one another in ways that allow us to both see the interconnectedness of humanity, as well as our own individual identity. My story is what differentiates my human experience from yours. Yet, your ability to relate to my story is what brings us together.

Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for your interest and for sharing in this human experience with me. I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the variety and sincerity of replies I have received. As I have said from the beginning, I’m not sure what form this blog will take and whether, or how much, I will continue to write. My palms are open in this regard. But, it has been a truly beautiful and humbling experience. Thank you.

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