Usually, it’s interesting to listen to a story about how one came to be where they are today. Yes, we all have a story and we should. Most stories have good moments, bad moments, mishaps and celebrations. It’s called life and all of the experiences we’ve endured over time somehow allow us to put together the perfect answer to the question of why we are who we are.
As a part of Oprah’s life class, Iyanla Vanzant recently discussed how our story affects our growth or lack thereof. The major point she made was in regards to how we get stuck in our story and become addicted to that story, telling it again and again. Not only have we perfected the story for others, but we’ve also ingrained that very story deep in our own conscience, and have allowed it to be the reason or more truthfully, the excuse of why things turn out the way they do. Not only have some become stuck in the story they’ve lived thus far, but some are even stuck in a story that really doesn’t belong to them. Some of us live telling Mama’s story; “Mama was always sick, that’s why I’m always sick.” And unfortunately many also live telling Daddy’s story; “My daddy didn’t raise me, so I’ll always have a hard time with relationships”. So eager to live as Mama’s child or Daddy’s mistake, too many never learn to embrace their own true story. It’s always easier to accept the way we are, especially when we can find an excuse for it and the worst excuse anyone can ever live by is the quote that’s been patented by many; “That is just the way I am”. Some have also found a dangerous comfort in other quotes as well such as: “I tell it like it is because that’s the kind of family I came from”. “I don’t hug or say I love you because I didn’t grow up with that”. Excuse after excuse, all of which become unproductive comfort zones that many never escape.
Even as parents, it is important that we realize how much we spearhead the story our children will tell about their lives and who they are. Most parents fall into one of two categories. There’s the parent who teaches a child all the don’ts in life, the parent that teaches from their own fears; Don’t think you’re something you’re not. Don’t try to aim too high. Why are you trying to do all that? Don’t think too much of yourself. You didn’t come from much so not much is expected. And these very lessons become the guide for children in everything they do, or more importantly, everything they don’t do while the parent never understands why that child doesn’t accomplish much. You also have the parent who teaches all the do’s in life; Know that you can do anything you put your mind to. Work hard and always do your best. Know that you deserve the best. You’re a beautiful person and you have a lot to offer”. Simple words, but because they come from a parent, can almost move mountains.
So yes, we all have a story and it is not that we should never tell our story, but what’s more important is that we continue our story. The difference between a story read in a book and the story of a life is a book already has an ending. As long as a life is still being lived, a new chapter is always due. Know your story but don’t get stuck in your story and allow it to hinder progress. Have your story but make sure it’s your story and not a story only passed on to you. If you sound like Mama, it’s a good chance you’re telling Mama’s story and not your own. If there’s been too much deception in your story, start a new chapter. Even if you’ve live a story that has hindered you in being who you really can be, as an adult you do become the new author and inherit all the rights. You can continue to tell the same tired story that leads to no progress or you can add on or change it altogether.
Maybe you’ve never realized how much your story has held you back if perhaps it has. I know that when I heard Iyanla say so many have become addicted to our story, it was a spark for me. Unfortunately, our story can become our excuse. We’ve learned it so well, memorized every moment, and can tell it to perfection, even well enough to gain pity from others. Too often we’ve spent too much time trying to help others understand who we are and all the while knowing we’re much greater than that story we continue to tell. For many, our story has become a comfort zone that protects us in the worst way. It keeps us hidden so we don’t have to be concerned about who’s watching and waiting for us to fail. And it keeps us hidden from others who long for something that could actually be provided, had we chosen to discover our truth.
At any moment that you do become completely comfortable in your story, that simply means its time for a new chapter, especially when you become comfortable with and accept living with all that holds you back. Also, know that new chapters might include new characters, different locations, and most importantly a new purpose for your story altogether. In whatever direction your story moves, know that with God, you are the author and the finisher.
Tawana R. Powell