We all have at least one story to tell. Truthfully we have thousands but we don’t often see it that way. There is some sort of taken-for-granted-ness that takes place (for a myriad of reasons) when we look at our past life’s experiences and just see them as these things that happened to us regardless if they’re good or bad.
“No biggie,” we tell ourselves. “That probably happens to everyone.”
And while there are plenty of circumstances, events, and milestones that are not unique, per se, like getting married (or divorced), or buying a house (or losing one), or graduating college (or choosing an alternative route), it’s the way you experienced it that makes it different. It’s the various details and idiosyncrasies of that ‘universal’ moment that make it interesting. It’s the way you tell it that makes it powerful.
Let me illustrate. I’ll use myself as an example, it only seems fair. Here’s a short entry into a story about myself that sounds common but is true.
I was a small-town girl looking to explore the big, beautiful world, so I left home to attend college out of state, so I could discover who I was outside of my small-minded surroundings.
This part of the story isn’t unique perhaps. But let’s now weave in some details of that experience that are not necessarily common and also all true.
In my second year of college, I found myself sleepwalking in and out of classes, steeped in the grief of the tragic death of my roommate, fighting my way out of a relationship that was beginning to turn abusive, and questioning my faith, wondering why God would choose to take my friend.
Cue the Law and Order sound (*duh duh). We have just gone from a known narrative into a swirl of events (tragic death and loss) and circumstances (abusive relationship) topped off with an internal philosophical struggle (questioning God).
Now, not all personal stories have to be tragic or traumatic, but they do all have conflict, rising tension, and that climactic moment where the pressure valve is released and the air seeps out of the balloon providing relief and a new state of being. In a nutshell, this is the story arc, and all good stories have them. Otherwise, they are just a flat retelling of chronological events that nobody cares about.
You have a ton of things that have happened in your life that may seem usual, typical, normal, common to you but have the ability to be given new life, new vitality, and new meaning when you get curious enough about them. Curious enough:
- to ask, “But what was different about that? What made that experience mine?”
- to map it out, looking at the story arc elements.
- to investigate the details of those moments you remember so clearly.
If you remember something so vividly, chances are it was important to you. It had meaning and impact. Write down the details.
Sometimes it’s the details and the way you remember something that makes the story profound and different. Consider this fictional example.
I remembered the exact way that last petal of the last rose in the bouquet I received at my mother’s funeral fell and hit the kitchen floor. I remembered thinking how much I hated those tiles she picked but also about how she would go around the yard every day and pick up all the loose petals off the grass in the garden, as though they were baby birds fallen out of the nest and she needed to return them to their mother.
This is far more compelling than I remember this bouquet of roses I got at my mother’s funeral like it was yesterday.
You have a story. You have hundreds. Most of them may seem to you like they are nothing worth noting or leveraging or sharing, but when you dust them off and inspect what exactly they are made of, you’ll find they are these gorgeous fractals of what comprises you. And you are amazing.
Your personal stories are your experiences packaged up in beautiful ways and offered to your audience as gifts, Your stories have the power to make others feel seen and heard. To feel understood. To feel less alone. To feel more capable. To feel empowered. Your stories can be like superpowers. So let’s uncover them.
Stay tuned to learn some ways to start uncovering yours. Or, if you’re looking to work with a professional writer to help you contact me.
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