Have you ever felt the stinging sensation of not fitting in? Having nothing to contribute to a conversation because you don’t have those shared experiences? You sit there silently praying no-one notices that you have nothing to say. Even though I had a very different childhood than many of my peers, I never quite felt that sensation as strongly as I did when I started consulting. My college experience didn’t include spring breaks, or homecomings. It didn’t include football games, or greek parties. It was pretty much working and school. My mom didn’t have the money to pay for college, so I worked full-time while I went to school (also full-time).
Everyone else had so many interesting experiences, and I felt incredibly left out. I just wanted to fit in. I wanted to feel normal. I wanted to have the same experience as everyone else did. I learned how to stay silent and observe. I learned to dress like my peers, to talk like my peers, and to redirect the conversation away from me as often as possible. I worked hard to blend in and not stand out.
This way of being worked for me for a very long time, but then something happened. I became a mom. I found myself telling my kids how important it was to accept themselves, and to be proud of who they were. But was I?
Was I proud of where I came from and who I was? Many years, self-help books, and glasses of wine later, I’ve learned to embrace where I come from and who I am. It made me who I am today. As I learned to embrace where I came from, and who I was, so grew a yearning to tell my stories.
I found Seth Godin’s work and had devoured his incredible books on leadership and being remarkable, and I loved his work. I saw that he was hosting a Story Skills Workshop with Bernadette Jiwa, and I got really excited! I had been wanting to learn how to tell compelling stories, and here was a workshop that promised to help me do that! I signed up, and I was super excited to start!
That was until…. they had these prompts that we were supposed to answer. Prompts to help you apply the storytelling lessons. Prompts that required me to generously contribute and give feedback to others. This was when I began to feel so much fear creep up. I was afraid to really put myself out there and tell my stories. What if they were bad? What if no one liked them?
I decided I was too busy (actually afraid) to really do this work, and that I’d try again another time, when Seth himself answered a post – where I challenged the idea of showing up, because I was so busy with my life. He said just 5 minutes. Show up for 5 minutes and do the work.
Could I do this work? Could I push past my fear and show up for 5 minutes?
I showed up, promising only 5 minutes each day. Sometimes 5 minutes turned into 50, and sometimes, it was just 5. I wrote my stories, and generously gave feedback on other stories. Along the way, something so powerful happened. My stories resonated with others! They felt seen in my words, and I felt seen in theirs! It’s almost magical when you read someone’s story and you find yourself relating to them. You feel connected, and you feel seen.
Through this workshop, I learned that we all want to be seen. That we all want to feel connected. Those very experiences I grew up hiding, are the same experiences that I want to share with others in hopes that they can feel seen too. We are all connected, and it’s our stories that helps keep that connection alive.
I can’t recommend the Story Skills Workshop enough. It has helped me finally start a regular blog, and has helped give me the confidence to tell my stories. If you have 5 minutes, and you’re willing to really show up for yourself and do the work, then you’ll inevitably feel the magic, and I hope you’ll share your stories with me!