The Power of Storytelling

I am a storyteller. This is telling a story in itself.  Not everybody would describe me as a storyteller, but it’s one of the ways I choose to describe myself, one way of presenting the truth, one way of telling the story of who I am.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of storytelling. It’s widely recognized as being important in winning people over to a cause or movement, but I think it’s also important to tell stories about our own lives in order to believe in ourselves and be sure of who we truly are.

Last week I wrote a post in which I talked about the times in my life where I’ve challenged expectations and chosen to live differently. After I published it I had a moment of self doubt. I worried that people would think it was stupid, that not painting my nails or going travelling for a bit doesn’t make me special. That’s true, or it’s certainly one way of seeing it. But I chose to tell a different, perhaps more interesting story.

We are all the narrators of our own life, what we choose to tell others about ourselves goes some way in shaping how they view us. In fact, I’d go further and say that we become the stories that we tell about ourselves, both those we tell to ourselves and those we tell to other people. I believe that my happiness stems from my ability to tell positive stories about my experiences, even if they wouldn’t normally be described as positive.

Everything can be spun both ways, and everybody has something interesting about them – so there’s no reason to sell yourself short. I know someone who, when somebody asked them at a party what they did, said ‘I just work in insurance.’ Just? If you aren’t interested in what you’re saying, how do you expect anybody else to be? In fact this person is an amazing photographer, intelligent, well-read, and the kind of person you can talk to for hours and hours.

You could have the most interesting hobbies, the most amazing experiences but you need to a) tell other people so they know how awesome you are and b) tell yourself that narrative so that you believe in yourself.

It’s also important to question those stories that other people tell about you: that you’ll never be as clever as your sibling, that you can’t be adventurous, that you have to get a particular job, that you have to save up for a house. It’s only true if you want to to be: you can do anything you want to if you believe you can.

What stories do you tell about yourself? What stories have you rejected? What stories do you think you need to change?