To those who liked the previous version of this blog. Sorry about that. I should not have written it. It was not my story to tell, anonymised or not. (I forgot where I was when I heard the things, I just remembered the lesson. Which is ironic.)
Here’s the thing. I’m a writer, and I love stories. I love stories so much, people often end up telling me stories about themselves, things that they might not have told me, except for the fact that I was so interested.
And people have incredible stories. Especially normal people. Stories of overcoming difficulties, of making mistakes, and then coming right, of problems turned into blessings, of struggling on and on until something changed, stories of hopes and dreams, heartbreak and passion. Beautiful stories.
I am an idealist. I wish people could see the power of the story, and the power of not telling the story. I can remember countless occasions of people telling me things, and me sitting back and saying “I had no idea!”, frequently thinking, if you had told me that before, it would have been so much more helpful. So I like telling my story, because it helps people understand me. Most of the time.
And I like to help other people tell their stories, because often, it helps them to see themselves in a new light. It helps them see how far they have come, rather than thinking about how far they still have to go. And mostly, other people’s stories inspire me, and can give me hints ant tips to make my own life better. Your story can make the difference between me making a bad choice and a good one, learning the lesson, or wasting a decade of my life in the quagmire of depression, or anxiety, or addiction. (I have tasted the first, before you ask, and seen the other two close-up.)
So last week, I was at a thing, and somebody said something that struck me (because I’m a writer, and I remember these kinds of things). And then somebody else sent me a text along similar lines. And then somebody else told me her story, and I was inspired (“I guess I never get to hear my story for the first time,” she said when I told her). And everything came together in the beautiful theme of the importance of telling your story. And I thought it was brilliant, and I wrote a blog, careful to anonymise people.
And then I was told off. And it took me a while to realise I was wrong. Because stories are powerful things, and we need to tell them, but we need to tell them right. And we need to make sure that we don’t cause unnecessary offence, that we don’t invade confidential space for the sake of the lesson (this last is what I actually did). Because here’s the thing – I know you have an amazing and beautiful story, but if you don’t want to tell it, I can’t make you.
Even if I really, really want to know how you learnt the thing you learnt.
So my story is this – I wish you knew how amazing your story really is. I wish you would tell it.
(And now I’m going to go and edit all the tags to this post.)