Who Are You Without Your Story?

“What do you do?” I always bristle when people ask me this question, right after I give them my name. There are better ways to draw out someone’s true nature, ya know?

When I was a journalist, I had to learn how to make those delicate interactions work in my favor without pissing people off or causing them to shut down completely, but that’s a story for another time…

When people ask us what we do, we usually fall right into lock step and provide our canned story, don’t we?

“I’m a lawyer…I’m in finance…I grew up on the west coast…I love/hate what [insert public figure] is doing about [insert cause of the day]…” But are you actually that person, still? 

Who are you, really, without your story?

Seems like even a crappy story is a cozy home for some folks. They know it so well. It can’t possibly disappoint them any further. And it keeps the stakes and the achievement bar comfortably low.

Or others will tell a story they wish were true, over and over, to anyone who’ll listen, so as to convince themselves of its validity. They really aren’t fooling anyone, though. It’s a marathon on a looping track and I want you to stop running in circles, my dears.

Here’s a secret–there are no rules.

You are the author of your own epic, the navigator on your big adventure, the CEO of the enterprise of your mind.

No matter what has been, give yourself permission to generate something new.

Look at the trees. They drop their beautiful, multicolored leaves in the fall like a grand finale to a fantastic story. And then they grow new ones, similar but all different.

So, let go.

You’re more like that tree than you realize. Grow a new story that you actually want to be in.

There are lots of ways to asses where you are and where you want to be. Try free writing, first thing in the morning, for one week. Don’t censor or judge what comes up; treat it like a stream of consciousness. 

Then look at all you’ve written. What patterns do you notice? Where have you said “I can’t” or “I won’t” or “I want to”?

Make a list and whittle it down to reveal the things inside that you’ve suppressed or have been ignoring. Then write down three simple actions you are going to take to address what has come up. It could be anything from “apply to grad school” to “try meditation” to “experiment with a new look”.

Let me know how it goes! And remember, you’re the author of your story. Make it a page-turner!

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