And this is why we have to tell our own stories. When it’s up to someone else, we might not even be NAMED. Forget a whole narrative.
— nicole means victory (@ndcollier) August 1, 2012
I tweeted this out of frustration surrounding the coverage (and lack thereof) of Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas. It isn’t the first moment to inspire this response, yet I’ve only recently begun to affirm this for myself.
For years, I had connected storytelling to a sort of pathology. The stories that truly needed telling were riddled with pain and misery. The only important stories showed tremendous triumph over tragedy, rags to riches, or some variation that X was hard and I overcame it.
I never experienced my life in those terms; therefore, I didn’t have a “story.” There was nothing particularly grueling about my life – a smattering of speed bumps – so there was nothing to tell. But your life, however you experience it, is your story, and it’s worth telling. And not just for your own sake.
Each person’s story adds a new layer to our collective understanding. It offers nuance and possibility. The differences from one life to another remind us there is no single story of women. There is no single story of Black people. There is no single story of southerners. Nor is there a single story of Buddhists. My story, with its myriad chapters, stands at the intersection of these and fathomless other circles of life.
Just to be clear, the benefits of sharing your story are not simply reserved for everyone else. Powerful allies known as affirmation and self-reflection, come to you in the telling. Even (and I know this from experience), when the only person you’re telling is yourself. Your story is your victory. Claim it.
Today’s post is my first entry in the #30in30 challenge. I aim to write 30 posts over the next 30 days. In July, I deemed August a month for writing, and it seems the universe agrees. Tayari’s #WRITELIKECRAZY encouraged me to develop concrete goals. Initially they were comfortable, easily manageable goals. #30in30 pushes me outside my boundaries (posting everyday!?). But lately, I’ve found it invigorating to be a little uncomfortable.
Join us. I’m positive you have a story to tell, too.