We live and die by them. They shape the way we view people and the way we view the world around us. Everyone has their own plot line, their own villains and their own heroes. We can’t help but view the events of our world in the context of our own stories.
If you’re like me and you’ve got a flair for the dramatic, maybe you even view yourself as the protagonist – the center of your own adventure. Social media, blogs, and the little computers we hardly ever put down give us a chance to physically compose our own chapters – to curate and share our highlights and romanticize our lows. We get to be our own biographers and documentary producers, chronicling the ups and downs, the victories and tragedies. To interact with our audience every step of the way and shape our narratives as we go. The way that we watch the lives of others unfold around us is not unlike the shows that we watch on television.
Whether they’re fictional or real or supernatural or curated for us in the media, we are all profoundly influenced by the stories that we hear. This reality has weighed heavily on me for the past couple months, and I’ve been noticing the impact of the stories I hear every day. Eventually, I started to write out the questions that had been cluttering up my brain. What story am I telling? What story do I want to tell? Are those the same thing? How is my story impacting the people around me? And how can you possibly share a story that is still being written?
And possibly the most difficult, is that story even worth telling?
My first thought was that of course my story matters. Everyone’s story matters! We are unique and all bring something to the table, right? We were created as individuals with our own gifts and weaknesses and we can learn so much by sharing ourselves. Digging a little bit deeper is more difficult though, because we’ve all messed up and there are a lot of things we’d rather not include in our biographies. What happens when you’re still waiting to see what redemption looks like? How do you tell a story that you can’t write an ending for?
Maybe it’s the writer in me, but at this juncture in my life every decision feels a bit like a plot twist. Marriage, job changes, children, relocations – they all change the story. Sometimes, I have no idea where I’m going but I know that I have to take a step confidently through a door that has been opened for me. Sometimes, I need to spend some time figuring out where I want to go before I try to get there.
If you’re a creative, you know that the process of creating is likely messy. You’re going to screw up; you’re going to redo things. Sometimes things start out one way, but somewhere in the middle you realize that you’re headed in an entirely different direction. And if someone were to come capture your screw ups, you’d probably be humiliated.
The reality, though, is that if you are reading this, your story is not over, and that means that you are still creating a work. You are still being built. The steps may not always be very pretty, but each step is an important part of the finished product. Maybe it’s okay to share the imperfect. Maybe it’s okay to embrace the not-so-pretty parts that comprise a stunning finished work.
And maybe you’re wrestling with these questions, too. I certainly don’t have any answers. I think the only conclusion that I’ve come to is that it’s essential to reevaluate and change direction every now and then. To ask yourself who you want to be instead of what you should do. Does what you are doing help you become who you want to be? If the answer is no, then fix it. If the answer is yes, do that thing and pour your freaking heart into it, because you deserve to live in the beauty that you are a part of.
Your story does matter. Your story will change the people around you. Make it a good one.