The professional story
When we’re applying for a job or seeking a new business opportunity, we write our story based on the image we’d like to project, and how we want to “sell” ourselves. It’s all about our persona, and how we communicate our accomplishments.
The personal story
But our stories are always much more complicated than the image we’d like to present to the world.
There are failures to go along with our successes.
We play many different roles in life – some more successfully than others.
Our resumes or bios generally don’t tell the story of our relationships, or the emotions we experience on our inner journey.
There are deeper stories waiting to be told – if we dare.
Who we are at our core
Right now, I’m in the process of writing ceremonies for the weddings I’ll be officiating this summer. A key part of each ceremony is the couple’s love story – their history, what draws them to each other, what they value most, and what their hopes are for the future.
These stories reveal more of the essence of each couple and go far beyond their professional identities.
Telling stories about our deeper selves requires vulnerability.
I’ve found that many couples choose a Celebrant to perform their wedding because they are willing to share their story and want their ceremony to reflect who they really are.
They can be refreshingly honest about their feelings and thoughts, and the complexities of loving another person through thick and thin. They’re prepared to be real – although they’ll sometimes ask, “Can we actually say that in our ceremony??”
What’s at stake?
When we tell stories out of our deepest selves, we reveal our true joys and struggles and allow others to find emotional connection with us and with their own personal stories.
When we risk being vulnerable, we give permission for others to be vulnerable, and our relationships move to a deeper, more authentic level. These are the kind of stories that break down walls and build community.
Taking the risk
In 2013, my own life story took a difficult turn when I injured my right hand and lost the ability to play piano for a living. My family and close friends supported me when I really had no idea where my life was headed.
A year later, I was invited to speak publicly about losing my livelihood as a musician. I was nervous about revealing how deeply this change had affected me. But many people came up to me afterward and shared their own experiences with loss, injury, or being out of work – stories they rarely talked about.
I realized that by making myself vulnerable, I opened the door for others to share their stories.
Your story matters
Philip Pullman writes, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
Authentic stories connect us to our emotions and have the power to heal and inspire.
And when we’ve shared the difficulties in life, then we’re even more excited to celebrate the good times and share each other’s joys!
Yes, stories really do matter.