“It’s hard to hate someone who’s story you know,” and I believe everyone has a story. Yes, everyone, even you! While you may think your life isn’t very interesting and nothing has ever happened to you, that in and of itself is interesting.
When I was an undergrad studying psychology, I took a class called Personality. We were asked to write a paper about the most traumatic event of our childhood. Trauma was a big word for me, and it took some digging before I remembered the most difficult thing that happened to me.
Listening to my fellow students tell their stories to the class, I heard about child abuse, divorce, addiction and deaths of close family members or best friends, none of which had happened to me. My relatively insignificant story was about the day my cat was killed by a truck.
I learned several things from that experience. I learned that people with difficult histories often pursue careers in the helping professions because they can help others with similar stories while gaining a better understanding of what happened to them. I also learned that everyone has a story—some of us have happy stories, sad stories or tragic stories, but, nonetheless, we all have a story.
I have a friend who learned of storytelling as a profession, a hobby, therapy and entertainment and wanted to create that in her local area south of Chicago. Once a month, she puts on a high-quality show, Homewood Stories, complete with five different tellers who share to sold-out crowds.
What makes the exchange of stories so satisfying? I believe it all revolves around connection. When you listen to someone share things from another part of the world with an experience you could have never imagined, yet you are still able to relate to the storyteller, it connects you in ways other things can’t.
When you decide to write your story, it empowers the author and strengthens the reader. The authors are empowered because their story is a part of them, and the act of sharing connects them to the listener. If the story is painful, the repeated telling of their story can lessen its traumatic impact; the storyteller is strengthened by facing what happened, and, with each telling, history lessens its grip on the person. If the listener is going through something similar, the story can be a source of inspiration and hope. When you’re struggling through an unfortunate time, listening to someone’s story can help put things in perspective by helping you view things with more gratitude and positivity.
Sharing your story can set you free. Maybe something happened to you that caused you shame, but the shame didn’t belong to you. You took on the shame the perpetrator wanted you to have so you would stay silent. You were convinced no one would believe you, they wouldn’t care and, even worse, they would blame you for what happened. Shouting your story from the rooftops will make you realize you have nothing to be ashamed of. What happened may have been bad, but you didn’t want it, ask for it or provoke it. Being a victim is horrible, but remaining a victim is a choice you make. Telling your story can set you free.
Finally, sharing your story can bring others joy. Sometimes your story is a story of triumph, or maybe it’s a simple feel-good story that others love to hear. Stories about pets, children and grandparents are big winners in the entertainment department.
Telling your story through fiction is an equally powerful experience. Through fiction, you can create extensions of yourself to explore aspects your own life. Fiction is such a wonderful tool that, sometimes, this happens without the author realizing.
Please don’t die with your story in you. There are people in the world who need to hear it. Perhaps they need a break, encouragement, or a light in the darkness. Perhaps there are people who want to do what you have done and need you to show them the way. When I work with writers, I ask them why they want to write a book, and if they don’t have a compelling reason that’s bigger than themselves, I ask them to find one.
Maybe you are sharing the story of another person. I have known a woman who published a book based on the writings of her deceased grandmother, another wrote about her father’s life, and another told the love story of her son and daughter-in-law. It doesn’t matter if it’s your story or someone else’s, there are people who need to hear it.
Have you convinced yourself that someone else has already written your book? It’s possible that another person wrote about the idea you have, but they didn’t write it the way you will. You have something unique to share with people. Do you have a book in you? I know you do… get writing. InsideOut Press can help!