Feeling, Living

Sharing Our Stories

March 26, 2015


“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 beliefthat 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.”

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  • Reply Lindsey March 26, 2015 at 10:35 am

    I agree with every word of this. And share your view that there’s something to be gained from both sharing and witnessing the stories of others. I also love that Ram Dass quote. Xoxo

    • Reply jtao21 March 28, 2015 at 10:33 am

      Gah – thanks so much for reading Lindsey – your writing sets the bar for the type of sharing that makes the world a better place. xo

  • Reply JoAnna March 27, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I am always fearing that my sharing os an over-share. Especially now that I’m in school and nobody around me is even remotely interested in what I am studying/talking about. I can hear L zoning out waiting for his turn. The wonderful thing about a blog is that people can read if they want to. I don’t always read your blog. Sometimes I binge read it if it has been a while, but by no means do I feel an obligation. I love your insight, and I learn from your experiences. I have told you before, and I’ll say it again, I never get tired of it (PPPPPP Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sidney) your self awareness is infectious. I am a better person knowing you and hearing your life’s story. I have had the pleasure of knowing you in real life, so the blog for me is a glimpse into a person that I know and love but can’t be around… a chance to share in your journey from a distance. You never share too much, and I know you don’t share everything. Allow yourself the freedom of truthfulness in your writing and continue your courageous effort to love outwardly without the fear of judgement. This post reminded me of our first night living together… up till 4am with lots and lots of sharing stories. My first Stine Stories. They are all in my brain somewhere acting as tiny dominoes falling into the thoughts of my future somewhere… Somehow “Thaaaa boooot” is boosting my brain in the linguistics department… I just know it. Sure, maybe we (I) talked too much that night, but all I remember from that night was making a friend for life. Anyway, keep making dominoes… xo

    • Reply jtao21 March 28, 2015 at 10:35 am

      Jo – thanks so much for both *your* insights and your friendship. Your words mean a lot to me. You’re an ideal reader so I’m glad you pop in every now and then. Sharing stories with people like you is what makes life magical. Love ya!

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