“It should scare you a little to share your everyday story.” – me in a text today
I was on a call recently with our 90-Day Challenge Rockstars about their stories. They were deep into the first chapter of their workbooks trying to pull out all kinds of memories; from childhood, careers, relationships, work, schooling, expertise, clients, colleagues – from everywhere.
It’s tough work and they were getting after it. As we got deeper into what storytelling really meant, one Rockstar mentioned that she was worried about sharing controversial topics – like religious oppression. The more she shared, the more we found out about her own story and how she had escaped her religion’s oppression, an oppressive marriage, and an oppressive culture.
This big controversial topic was her everyday story. Later in the call, another Rockstar talked about how she didn’t want to be controversial as well, then went on to share how she had gone to the doctor only to be belittled by him when he said, “You probably have this because you’re African American.”
Racism was her everyday story. It wasn’t controversial because it was HER story. I had never felt like I could relate to two controversial topics so easily – and started thinking about my own upbringing in small town churches and my recent trip to the doctor when I was told that I had high blood pressure because I was almost 40.
Their everyday stories echoed my own. Not because I had lived either of them, but because they were relatable.
Most of us are looking for the perfect, EPIC stories – and coming up short. The ones where we cheated death, lost limbs, hiked Mt Everest, or became a blind Olympian. We look at our EVERYDAY stories and think, “No one will want to hear this.”
Your everyday stories are the ones that will make the most difference. Epic stories inspire us, BUT they don’t connect with us. Epic stories wow us, BUT they don’t go home with us. Epic stories blow our minds, BUT they don’t stick with us. Why? Because epic stories only happen to a handful of people.
Everyday stories connect deeply with us. Everyday stories are the ones we tell our friends. Everyday stories have a profound impact on our lives. Why? Because everyday stories are our stories, too. We ALL have these everyday stories in us right now. These everyday stories either seem too controversial or “too small” to share. We have stories of being bullied and abused or stories of finding our person at a young age and loving them forever. We have the good and the bad. We have the hard and the easy. All of those stories make up US.
Our everyday stories also make us vulnerable. When someone knows our everyday stories, they know US. And THAT is where the scary part begins. When you share your everyday stories – the ones about your kids, your family, your trauma, your cancer, your world falling apart, your sibling passing away, your coming out day, your divorce, your finding yourself – you allow others to see into the messy and torn parts of you, but you also allow other to truly connect with you and HEAL.
Last night, I was at my mom’s house rubbing my eyes exhausted and ready to go to bed. We were talking about how some people pay for their kids’ college education and buy them cars – and how we went to college’s we could afford and got scholarships and bought our own cars. I mentioned the memory of how each of her four kids had to save up for a year of insurance before we could even get a car.
After 20+ years of thinking we had to do that so we wouldn’t ruin my parents’ car insurance (my mom still has a pristine record), my mom finally told me WHY we had to do that. And with it, she told me a little story that changed my perspective. When my dad was a kid, he was on his mom’s insurance. He paid her $15 a month in cash to be on it. One month, he was between jobs and had to scrape together enough to pay her, but he came up short. My grandmother said, “I’m canceling your insurance.” And that was that.
My dad’s freedom was in my grandmother’s hands. And my mom was very clear that she never wanted her kids to feel the way my dad felt – and wanted to be sure we kept our freedom even if we lost a job, or didn’t make enough money because we got sick. MIND. BLOWN. Just think if she had told us this when we were kids – how much more would we have enjoyed that freedom instead of complaining about how we had to save up all that money (or maybe not – teenagers can be a pain).
EVERYDAY STORIES MATTER. And it’s up to YOU to tell them. Your story matters. Period. Whether you are the best storyteller or you’re still learning how to tell a good story, start today. Call a friend & share a story. Create a video & share a story. Write a post & share a story. Start speaking a story out loud to your dog. Tell your kid a story about your own childhood. Share your story with a colleague.
If it doesn’t scare you just a little to share your story, I challenge you to get a little more vulnerable with it.