#15 – Why Tell Stories?
The healing that comes with sharing stories
The state of the world and the weight of the pandemic hit hard for me last week. I struggled. Work was hard, writing was hard, exercise was hard. All the things that usually keep me going were hard and instead I had the constant companion of the weight in my chest that is anxiety.
I share this with you because I assume I’m not alone in this. One person I spoke with last week told me they just couldn’t focus and didn’t think they’d be able to until after November 3. She and the people in her world were collectively holding their breath. I’d forgotten about the election. Briefly. It hadn’t been weighing on me and I was confused about what it was (beyond the pandemic) that was feeling so heavy. Ohhhhhhhhh, thaaaaaaat. Our collective grief and anxiety. Makes sense.
And then I went away for the weekend. I drove to a small town outside of Toronto with a group of girlfriends who inspire and motivate me. But, it wasn’t the trip or the bursts of red, yellow and orange leaves along the highway that shifted my outlook (though getting out of the city and getting to touch trees helped). It was what we did during our time together that made the difference.
We told stories and created memories. Literally (in its actual meaning), we told stories.
We dedicated an entire evening to sharing some of the experiences of our past. We went around in a circle and told tales of past adventures. At once being vulnerable and giving each other strength in the process. I was anxious the entire weekend up until that point. We sat cozy in our sweats with glasses of wine and snacks being passed around while a fire crackled in the background and made real our stories through the retelling and processing of some them in new ways.
I knew these women professionally first and this was an opportunity to dive deeper into who they were beyond impressive career women in tech. We were able to reveal to each other parts of our past and personality that shaped the women we had become at this point in our lives. It connected us in new ways and intertwined our personal stories with each other’s. Magic.
Stories heal, but only when you share them. You don’t have to go away on a trip or have a group of people and great wine for them to work their magic. You just have to be willing to be vulnerable, to open up, and to be generous. Tell your stories. They matter and they heal and they ground us in our experiences of this world.
Choose one topic (What made you start your business? What inspires your creativity? What’s your dream job? Who’s an ex you don’t regret but should?). Write it down or make a voice note or video and send it to someone. It doesn’t have to be fancy or highly stylized. Your story is powerful enough on its own. Hopefully they’ll send something back (I bet they will if you ask).
I was able to come home, dive into my writing again, and finish what I think is the final draft of my manuscript. It’s just about ready for me to send it out again. I’ll keep you posted as I dive back into the deep, cloistered, and impenetrable world of publishing.
You may not know this about me, but I LOVE an empowered female rapper (who doesn’t?). Megan Thee Stallion is a personal fave. She’s been through a lot of late, but turned that into an effort to talk about an issue important important to her. Read what she had to say about protecting Black women in the New York Times. And if you’ve never listened to her music check this song out—she’s not for everyone, but she’s definitely for me. Let me know what you think.
Also, if you’re enjoying this or if there’s something you’d like me to cover in a future letter—an element of your storytelling you may be struggling with, please let me know by leaving a comment below. I’m here to help.
Thanks for reading and I’ll “see” you next week.