Embrace Your Story: The Path of Authentic Expression

Posted on Apr 12, 2024

What is the story you want to tell with your life?

This week a couple dozen people are asking this question with me, in my annual 7-day Story Challenge. Whether you not you’ve ever gone through the challenge process, it’s a question worth exploring at different points in life. 

The trick is to explore the question with grace and curiosity rather than expectation and judgment.

The word story comes to us from the Latin word historia. And it is our stories with which we weave our futures as well as our histories. So what we choose to tell has impact.

“We are the stories we tell ourselves.” 

— Joan Didion

Story is defined as:

  • an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment
  • an account of past events in someone's life or in the evolution of something. 

In screenwriting, I learned you must be willing to sacrifice the facts for the truth, and this is a very personal perspective indeed. Time is limited in a film, so choices must be made.  But whether we're talking reality or fiction, stories are not the facts themselves but our representation of the facts. So being able to see clearly our interpretations of the facts gives us agency.

How do you give meaning to what happens to you?

To prepare this post, as I often do, I began with freewriting. This time it went kind of like this:

Embrace your story. It’s a good theme, but I’ve been struggling with it.

I think I spent a good part of my life rejecting my story. I always understood my story to be the circumstances I’d grown up in, the culture I consumed, the places I traveled, the beliefs I inherited, the environment that shaped me. I took all that to be my story. But just now in this moment it’s dawning on me that that what I’ve assumed as my story is actually their story, the story of the world I grew up in.

To tell your own story requires that you differentiate yourself from the world around you. The world, the conditions, the hardships and joys which you grew make you. But two be fully alive you have to claim your own story. 

We cannot of course extricate ourselves completely from the world we were born into, the planet we inhabit, the people around us. But is the jewel as beautiful as it can be if it is not excavated and refined? 

The story you tell with your life is not told with words.

To embrace your story means...

  • To be grateful for your life experiences
  • To acknowledge how they’ve shaped you
  • To be able to see them and yourself as you detach from them
  • To acknowledge how you see things differently
  • To acknowledge what you see “out there” as your own reflection
  • To accept who you are without having to justify it
  • To own your interpretations of the world and your life
  • To become aware and self-aware
  • To love your evolution without making others wrong
  • To feel yourself in the company of others
  • To feel the movement of energy through you, to you, from you, between you
  • To recognize that your story is one of many, the combination of which become reality and then history
  • To recognize the universal stories that describe you
  • To take charge of your story and  know that you’re writing it
  • To become aware of the ways in which the unconscious parts of your story drive you and determine your outcomes, even more than what you intend
  • To know that your story isn’t finished, even when you die

“Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create.” 

— Oprah Winfrey

The story you tell with your life is told with minutes, dreams, courage, vulnerability, risk, experimentation. It is sacrificing what you know on the altar of understanding. It is giving up your story of loneliness to make a friend… your story of why you can’t do something to go out there and do it.

The story you tell with your life is felt and shared. It hurts. It sings. It hurtles you out of your shell into birth and life and death, all within a few minutes of trying. 

It’s the calls you make, the people you reach out to. And the ones you don’t. If you are bored with your life, then do something about it. Or just be with it… and do nothing for a while.

“People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.”

— Terry Pratchett

The story of your life is being writing now... by you.

To embrace it means to celebrate the path you’ve come through, which only you have come through, which only you have experienced. Only then can you make meaning of the life you're living now.

Come out of your head, your analysis, your need to know the reason, the next steps, the denouement. Come out and live. Plant a tree and watch it grow. Play with kittens. Encourage the grandchildren. Build something. 

Then tomorrow perhaps you’ll sit down and write your reflections. Perhaps you’ll bring one more beautiful thing into the world that will surprise you, inform you and show you something you didn’t know.

Whether or not you've been part of this week's Story Challenge, if these thoughts resonate with you, I invite you to join me this Sunday, April 14th, in the Virtual Yurt, where we will celebrate the power of our stories to remind us how we want to live. 

Click here to join us.

« Previous

How You Perceive: 6 Practices to Consciously Shape Your View of the World

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *