What does it mean to share your story?
Storytelling has come a long way over the years. Thousands of years ago tribes would gather around the fire . A hundred years ago families gathered around the radio. Today we gather together in theaters, living rooms or virtually to watch a story unfold in spectacular fashion.
There is something about hearing someone’s story, weather real or fiction, that has the ability to reach into the depths of our soul and reveal desires that we didn’t know we had.
Although your story may not have the action or adventure of an Indiana Jones movie or the love story of a romantic comedy, there is still power in your story that you can’t begin to imagine.
I have felt the pull on my heart to share my story for years. I found myself daydreaming of ways in which I could open up to the world and share the experiences, lessons, and victories of my life.
I attempted a blog, a vlog, a podcast, a book, none of which I saw through. The problem was, each time I started I would freeze up, I would draw a blank. For years I would start, choke, and retreat.
Any time I tried to open up I would feel the fear of vulnerability creep in. All of the self critical things that I thought about myself would start swirling through my brain, drowning out my thoughts like static on the radio. So instead of just letting the story flow from me effortlessly, I would microfocus on the words I was using, how I sounded, what people would think, what I should say or shouldn’t say, until it felt like it was less about sharing my story and more about being accepted.
Then I realized something. I didn’t only struggle with this problem when I would sit down to open up about the stories of my life. I struggled with this in my daily interactions with people as well. I found that the same critical thoughts that drove me to micromanage my image as I worked on a blog post was the same one that drove me to micromanage my image in person.
I know that I am not alone in this battle. I hear it from people all of the time. It is a daily struggle to be open and authentic in our lives without fear of judgment or rejection.
Even if someone isn’t the type that withdraws inward when they feel vulnerable, that doesn’t mean that they don’t struggle with the fear of vulnerability. Some people react to that fear with rebellion and anger, some present a superficial version of themselves, some become overachievers and some isolate from others.
And for some of us, we do a little bit of it all.
For me, I tend to censor myself and edit out the little quirks and flaws so as not to reveal my imperfections to the world. I become a perfectionist.
Over the last several years I Have had the chance to really see my fear of vulnerability in full color. It took me finally stopping to ask myself an important question before I was able to push past my blocks and face my fear head on.
Why did I have this gnawing desire to open up to the world about my life? Why did I want to share my story?
For years I told myself it was because I wanted to help people. I wanted to inspire others and share the lessons that I had learned; all of that was true, but there was something more.
I wanted to be heard. I wanted to be seen. I wanted to know that my life was relevant and that I mattered. I realized at my core, that my true desire was to feel like I had a purpose.
Isn’t that the desire at the core of all of us?
We all desire to feel as though our life has a purpose. That is why it is so difficult to open ourselves up fully. For us to walk into our lives and live transparent to others, open, honest and authentic… that takes a great deal of courage. Because we believe that if we do, we risk failing, being rejected or falling short.
Our heart’s desire is to connect with others and feel like we are a part of the bigger picture. The irony is that it is that very desire that causes us to fear doing the things that could give us the connections we long for.
Not everyone wants to start a podcast, or a blog. Regardless of what it is you feel drawn to, everyone seeks to fulfill their desire for purpose in different ways. It could be pursuing a business idea that you believe in, wearing the clothes that you want to wear, getting that tattoo or piercing you’ve always wanted, creating that art piece, joining a dance team, starting a book club, writing a book, making a lifestyle change…. you get the point.
Sharing your story is as simple and as difficult as allowing yourself to be seen as you are with all of your unique qualities. It’s Putting down your defenses and letting go of judgment and expectations, living your life with integrity and with love and respect for yourself and others. You share your story by allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
I want to encourage you start sharing your story. Confront your insecurities and fears.. Don’t judge them, ignore them or reject them. Have compassion for yourself. Have compassion for those fears. Understand that they are there because you experienced pain at some point in your life. Look within yourself and find that part of you that carries that pain and embrace it with love.
There is a belief that at some point in our lives we will feel “ready”. Ready to pursue our desires, ready to be ourselves, to chase our dreams, to let go of burdens we carry, to forgive, to love, to create.
We think that the people that we see being brave and authentic in their lives don’t have fear like we do but that is simply untrue. The thing that sets the people that decide to live authentic lives apart from the people that stay right where they are is this; They just do it. They have fear, they have insecurities and doubts but they do it anyway.
You’re going to have fear. Your going to have insecurities and doubts.
Do it anyway.
We all desire to feel as if our lives have purpose. I believe that is because our life DOES HAVE PURPOSE!
Your life has a purpose right where you are now. You don’t have to accomplish something extraordinary to have an impact. You don’t have to live up to the golden standard to be important. You don’t need to have triumphed over the impossible to have a message of inspiration and you don’t need to be ready before you start sharing your story. Your true purpose in this life is to be yourself, it’s to love and be loved.
Your story is who you are and it has a much greater impact on the world than you know. It may seem insignificant when you compare yourself to others, But when you live your life in a state of love rather than a state of fear, amazing things start to happen around you. You become a ray of light in a world that can feel very dark some days. Your love overflows from your life and into the lives of others. That love then inspires them to go out into their life with love and acceptance and they then share that love with the people around them and it keeps going.
I used to believe that I needed to accomplish something big to be taken seriously. I thought that the only way to make an impact was to do it on a grand scale. I had these big aspirations to change the world.
One evening as I sat in the car with a couple of my good friends, I asked them a question.
” At the end of your life, what do you hope your legacy will be? What do you hope to have accomplished?”
Their answers surprised me. They both gave such a humble answer that I didn’t really understand how powerful it was it at the time. They said to me that at the end of their life, they hope that people remembered them as a good mom, a good friend and a loving person.
I remember thinking, that’s it? That doesn’t seem like very ambitious goals.
My goals were quite the opposite of humble so their answer seemed so unimpressive at the time. But I realized soon after that conversation that their answer was probably the best legacy any person could ever aspire to leave behind.
We get so wrapped up in these big dreams. We get so focused on accomplishing something extraordinary in our lives that we forget how extraordinary our lives already are. We forget the impact that we can have right where we are.
I read a quote by Brene Brown that I absolutely love.
In this world, somehow, an ordinary life has become synonymous with a meaningless life.-Brene Brown
There is so much truth in that statement. As a culture we really have come to believe that ordinary is mediocre, or to live an ordinary life is to live without purpose. However, to live fully in the life that you have now with gratitude , to love fully in the relationships that you have now without expectation, that takes guts! and a lot of hard work.
It’s easy to chase success and recognition, but to be a loving presence in your daily life, to be kind to yourself and let go of judgment and comparison, that’s hard.
My friends gave me a valuable piece of wisdom that evening; The legacy that we strive for should be a legacy of love.
So tell me, what is your story?
What is it that you’ve felt pulled towards but fear has held you back? What message would you share if you let go of the fear of rejection? What kind of story could you write for yourself if you started to live in Love instead of in fear?
I will leave you with this.
Your story is more than the experiences of your past. It’s more than a chronological expression of events during your lifetime. Your story is now. It is all of the little details of who you are, all of your unique personality traits and gifts.
Sharing your story is an important piece to the big picture because no one else can be you. No one else can bring the things into this world the way that you can. Your story is a unique and beautiful masterpiece and when you set judgments and comparisons aside, you’re able to see that about yourself.