So, what’s your story? Huh? Come on, everyone has one; the trick is knowing the naked, authentically real story, not the sanitized one we’ve been telling ourselves for years. Your one true story is the one that started at birth, and weaves all our experiences, the happy, the pain, the mistakes and the hurt together in book only we can write. Some chapters are positive, sparkling even, and some are hurtful, mysterious, lonely or disappointing. Personal narratives alone, however, don’t always tell the whole story. The outline of your story, the way it weaves experience together with emotion, that’s what helps shape the narrative.
“Tell your story. That’s the secret of immortality. The one true way to live forever.” Brad Meltzer
Here’s the thing – everyone has a story. Yours, though, is the only one you have control over. You can picture yourself through those cool gels cameramen slap on their lenses to fuzz out all the imperfections. But, hello, we can see right through that and you can, too. Write your truth.
Stories can be runaway trains or, depending how we spin them, old pals who we know aren’t a good influence but they just feel so comfortable in the retelling. These insidious inner spirits are more than happy to reinforce every negative story we tell ourselves. They whisper that we are not worth much, that we made too many mistakes, that we shouldn’t expect too much because they’re down with that. Yet, there’s a small voice that we don’t always hear. This is the one who tells us truth, unvarnished but not unsympathetic, not unkind and not hopeful. These are the dudes who call BS when you’re in that ‘it’s all my fault’, ‘I don’t deserve any better’ and ‘it’s too late to change the story’ mood.
“We’re wired for story. We feel the most alive when we’re connecting with others and being brave with our stories. It’s in our biology.” Brene Brown
Your story is a work in progress. As long as we are breathing we can still revise the content. We can try to do more good, give back, be open to change. Maybe you are a unicorn with a pristine, tale of pure blockbuster perfection. If so, blessings! But knowing that life can easily turn an uneventful upside down in a nanosecond, be ready to write your story with a different pen, a revised outlook.
If you were putting pen to paper today (or keyboard to computer), what would the plot be? Would your tale tell soothing things to your inner child or does it only tell that kid off? Even if you view your life story as a chronic clean-up on aisle 6, your story is still chock full of everything life is about. From intrigue, love, humor, and mistakes, even serious ones, to success, growth and yes, trauma and tragedy. If we lived it, we own it and we need to learn from it, all of it. We can’t revise the already lived narrative but we can shape the final chapters.
Stories define us. Experiences shape us. The people around us inspired and changed us. But we are the authors, the only authors, of our stories and we own them. Being clear about what is and has been good, bad or ugly in our lives allows you to move past excuses, accept responsibility and change the chapters to come. In the story of us, there are no alternative facts, just the ones we tell ourselves.
“You may not have signed up for a hero’s journey but the second you fell down, got your butt kicked, suffered a disappointment or felt your heart break, it started. The only decision we get to make is what role we’ll play in our own lives. Choosing to write our own story means getting uncomfortable; it’s choosing courage over comfort.” Brene Brown
Let’s face it. We’re not always the victim — or the hero of our story. We, as it’s been said, are spiritual beings having a human experience and are always the stars of our own stories. Just when you slapped a neat tentative ending on a chapter, you transition to another. You string chapters together like multicolor beads, as your story evolves and grows. But, one thing is clear. Your story cannot be fiction. It cannot be fairy tale. Like it or not, it’s as real as we dare to be. We just have to be brave enough to own it.
Our stories reassure us that life goes on, whether we are here or not. We may lose the narrative at times, but we will never lose our essence, what makes us – us. We may lose the will, when grief holds the pen, but that, too, ebbs and flows. If we have the courage to see the slide show of our life in the stark light of day, things may begin to make sense. We might see how, even through confusion or resentment, pieces connect to another. How we came to the most loving relationship of our life, if previous one hadn’t nearly broken us. How we achieved the career we were made for because we lost the one we thought we wanted. Or we might see how seemingly accidentally our best friend arrived in our life when we were at our lowest. Sometimes the most mysterious chapters end up making the most sense.
“A day will come when the story inside will want to breathe on its own. That’s when you’ll start writing.” Sarah Noffke
In the end, every one of us are stories. We came, we lived and our story lives on in those we leave behind. Our story is singular and unique . . .
. . . And it isn’t finished yet.