“She told me, her client, so much about her life, it felt like she was over sharing,” my friend was telling me about her hairdresser at lunch the other day. We were talking about sharing our experiences, both the need to talk about things and what that asks of the people we’re choosing to tell.
“But that’s not how you feel now?” I asked.
“She told me that she shared these things with me because, in times of struggle, it can’t hurt to have people know what you’re dealing with, so that they can keep you in their thoughts. And the more people who have you in their thoughts, the more people you have praying for you.”
Because I write about my life here, and I’m very open with people in conversation (because I like to get right to the deep, soulful stuff), it seems I share a lot. Obviously, compared to people without blogs, I do, but I like to think that I’m thoughtful about what and how I share.
And the “what” and “how” is what matters to me.
It’s not always the big explosive subject that will make your writing rock, but instead, your ability to find the story in the smallest moments of your actual life, and to then dig into that moment and get curious about why it’s surfacing for you and what’s really alive down there. What’s going to make your story memorable is the way you tell it, and why you’re telling it.
Where Do Our Stories Come From
The stuff I shared over lunch with my friend may not make it onto this blog. At the same time, as I take myself more and more seriously as a writer, it’s becoming apparent that I want to tell true stories, as in, my truth, how I lived it, my own experience. I want to share the muck and the bear-hug joy of my days. I want to care enough about the details of my own life that I fall in love with it again and again, and that love touches something in you and makes you fall right in love with your own experience.
But it can be scary to share our stories. As above, the “why” and the “how” both matter, as does the “who”. Who is worthy of your story? Who will hold that space for you? Or, is it like my friend’s hairdresser – if you share with enough people, those that can root for you, will?
And if it’s scary to share our stories, then it’s also brave. In the true telling of our experiences, we open ourselves up to being misunderstood or ridiculed, but we also can inspire people to share their own experiences, to show their own self.
Vulnerability is not weakness. I define vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty. It fuels our daily lives. And I’ve come to the belief… that vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage — to be vulnerable, to let ourselves be seen, to be honest. Listening To Shame
So I’m taking away two things from all of this. One, I’m following my friend’s approach. When someone’s sharing their story (posting online, talking, texting) I will listen with the understanding that it’s the telling that matters to them – that it’s not about me so much, though I can be present for them and hold space for whatever they’re sharing. And two, that I want to keep being brave in sharing my own story, even if it sometimes feels like “too much” for the person receiving it, or that it would just be “better for everyone” if I didn’t share at all.
And maybe, in all of that sharing, listening and holding, we will carry each other’s stories in our hearts, sending up some collective prayer for the greater good of all of us, because, like my favorite quote by Ram Dass says, “We’re all just walking each other home.”