The people who attend my storytelling workshops come from a diversity of backgrounds. Some are comfortable speaking in public, some are not. Some are naturally talkative while others are accustomed to staying in the background.
But, unless they’re already experienced storytellers, they all face obstacles in the form of beliefs which limit their creativity and confidence. For the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing 10 of the most common obstacles I’ve encountered and how new storytellers can overcome them.
So here’s Story Obstacle #1 – thinking your story doesn’t matter. Maybe you believe that your experiences haven’t been impressive enough. Maybe you believe that you haven’t had it as hard as other people, or maybe you even believe that the events in your life have been so unusual that no one could relate.
Whatever you believe, here’s what I believe — everybody’s story matters. It’s just that sometimes you have to figure out what your story is before you can know why it matters (even if what you figure out is that it only matters to you).
Because life as it’s happening can feel all kinds of random, human beings create stories after the fact to make sense of and learn from things that happen. But more often than not, people walk around unsure of how to make sense of things — or even what they’ve learned — because they don’t know how to piece together the parts of what happened and weave them into a story.
For some folks — especially in certain cultures — setting up a location, a protagonist, a desire, and an obstacle comes easily, but in mainstream American culture — where we have a less robust oral tradition — it takes work to figure out what goes where.
And yet, once you begin to do that work, you can feel the meaning start to arise from what were otherwise meaningless events and, where there was once only chaos, a story starts to take shape.
Because something happened. And it happened to you. And it mattered.
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