From the moment I could speak my first full sentence, I’ve always been a detailed and passionate storyteller. Being a writer has always been in the cards for me, even when I occasionally try on other career hats in my personal time. I love being able to express myself with language, even ones that aren’t native to me. Regardless of genre, stories entertain us. They elicit response through emotion, and they help us process those emotions into memories so we can hold on to them in a meaningful way. They can be wonderful tools for tapping into our own wells of insight and intuition, and can even help us recognize patterns of destruction or self-sabotage in our own lives so we can nip that ish in the bud.
Sometimes though, the stories we tell no longer benefit us, and we end up just reading aloud from the same chapter to our captive audience. At its worst, bad storytelling can cause us to shut our laptops and shelve a writing project right in the middle of the conflict stage of the story, mere pages away from a climactic plot-twist and a satisfying conclusion. John Greenleaf Whittier gets where I’m going with this. In his 1856 poem Maud Muller he expressed it perfectly:
“For of all sad words of tongue and pen,
The saddest are these: It might have been!”
I’m not exempt from bad storytelling, nor am I convinced we haven’t all written ourselves into a corner a time or two. It was pretty recently that I realized how often I was letting anxiety and depression prevent me starting a new chapter on a fresh page. It’s been eye-opening to pinpoint moments when I let unfounded fear, unhealthy environments, and grief that was no longer healing, keep me from the kinds of experiences that make for a captivating memoir. Of course, I wouldn’t have been able to set our plucky heroine on this path of honest self-revelation without the help of a few Pulitzer Prize winning authors in my life (read: my awesomely supportive doctor, my spiritual support, and other trusted advisors).
When it’s time to stop telling certain stories from your past so you can revel in the present and create a fulfilling future, it’s my hope that you remember that you, too, have a team of bestselling authors to consult should you find your plot has problems and that you always remember that you hold the pen when it comes to writing your own story. You deserve a happy ending.
Wishing You Total Well-Being,