Go Ahead! Get Naked and Own Your Story!
Recently, the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in Washington, DC, to great praise and celebration! This museum got me thinking about the power of our stories. In the last e-newsletter, I began this topic but wrote about the stories that our minds will make up in the absence of truth. You can find “Write Your Own Story: Don’t Let Your Story Dictate Your Life” here.
In this e-newsletter, I would like to focus more on owning our stories. It occurred to me that the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture was a profound and bold way in which African Americans are owning their collective stories as a people. We all are very aware that the history of African Americans did not start well. As a matter of fact, it couldn’t have started any worse. Yet, owning that story and knowing that it is part of who we are helps us in many ways. First of all, owning our stories helps us keep shame from running our lives. After all, many of us hide our stories because we are ashamed in one way or another of our past. Owning our stories helps us understand who we are and how we got where we are and it helps us celebrate our authentic, imperfect lives.
I have heard it said that our stories create the larger narrative of our lives. I have found this to be true. What I have also found to be true is that many of us tend to hide our stories and have become very good at being evasive when interacting with others. Currently, we pretty things up so we can share our lives on Facebook and other forms of social media without truly sharing. We share our “perfect lives” with other people as we talk to them, and they do the same with us. God forbid someone be honest and share their truth! Do you ever want more from your social connections than a relationship where neither of you is being real? Aren’t you sick of saying that you are “fine” when in fact you are going through a tough time? I know that these light fluffy interactions got old for me a long time ago. I actually remember my brother telling me when I was in college that I had no ability for small talk. He was right. Actually, I can do small talk. I simply don’t like it. While I recognized this many years ago, I still work daily on being as real as I can be in everyday life. Quite simply, the fluffy interactions were not satisfying. In fact, they were boring. I find the magic and beauty in the in-depth, truthful, and genuine connection with people. This magic and beauty help me live with integrity! Truth be told, I live for those real connections.
It appears to me that we have a major disconnect in this country—not just around this election and politics, but in general. We don’t take time to truly listen to each other. We also don’t take off our armor in order to share our truest selves. Due to this, we have a bunch of people walking the planet who are armored up bumping into others who are armored up. The problem with this scenario is that you cannot truly know or understand anyone else until you take your armor off and actually show up naked! By naked, I mean showing up honestly, authentically, and fully for the person who is opposite you in any interaction. This act takes tremendous courage, and I am still a beginner in this area. However, I get better every day.
I also try to own my scars. When I was young, I was taught not to tell others that I had epilepsy for fear of being treated differently. I sometimes wonder if my parents felt shame (at the time) that I was “different.” However, my growing up with epilepsy may have been one of my greatest gifts, as I supported people with disabilities for more than twenty years. Sharing this experience allowed me to understand and connect with people with disabilities and their parents on a real level.
We are all who we are because of our lives and the life events that have shaped us. To be clear, I am not suggesting that we play victim and live in our stories forever. That is not healthy. However, owning the fact that I have epilepsy, that my parents got divorced, that I struggled with my academics in high school and college, that I am bisexual, and that my father was murdered don’t keep me in my story. Owning them, speaking about these scenarios as well as a trillion others, helps me be real and give my stories the respect that they deserve. Balance is the key. Finding that balance between holding our stories so close that we can’t move on and owning our stories—facing the shame or embarrassment or other emotions with dignity and bravery—is imperative to leading a wholehearted life!
Where in your life do you want to be truer to who you are?
What’s stopping you?
Always remember that I am here and would love to help you get your footing, should you desire support to connect with your authentic nature and begin the process of owning your stories.
My last two e-newsletters were influenced incredibly by Glennon Doyle Melton. You may have seen her name. She has a new book titled Love Warrior that has been receiving a lot of support from Oprah and Brené Brown. I am currently reading Melton’s book Carry On, Warrior. I want to experience her writing fully, and so far, I have found it to be absolutely authentic—perhaps the most authentic that I have ever read! She is bold, courageous, and hilarious! She is a great teacher in showing that owning our stories instead of living in the closet is absolutely the way to live a wholehearted life!
This e-newsletter is definitely dedicated to bringing our stories of shame out of the closet and owning them. Here are two quotes that speak to this truth.
Until next time,
Safe Space Life Coaching