Humans have been telling stories since the beginning of time. It’s a way of connecting each of us to something, to someone. I believe storytelling is essential and needed now more than ever because we lack unity not only as a country but on a worldly basis as well. We need to close the gap between “othering” (which is the act of viewing or treating a person or group of people as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself) and listen for the “me too”‘s. We need to stop focusing on what makes us different from one another and open our eyes to what makes us the same. Don’t think “well his experience is surely unlike my own.” NO: think “how can I connect to his story?” Why can’t we be open to one another and the stories we hold and the experiences we own , from the beginning, rather than separating ourselves from the start because we fear being moved to a place of empathy or being misunderstood. You don’t have to agree, you just have to aim to connect. Embrace difference of thought, experience, and perspective. Allow yourself to be challenged by other world views. We need to push ourselves to be storytellers in the best way possible, with pure intent: to put voice to our inner-beings and connect with others. We need to be both the speaker and the listener. We need to be open to others, to be respectful of their journey thus far and of their experiences whether like or unlike our own, and to allow them a space to share; to use their voice, and to be heard. We need to close the gap between othering and misunderstanding and fill it with truth, understanding, and empathy. Only then will we be brought to genuine connection and true understanding and acceptance of one another. All anyone wants is to be heard, understood, and loved. To be given space, a space of their own in this vast world. We must close the gap between “us” and “them,” and “you” and “me.” Think about who you thought about when you read “us” and who came to mind when you read “them.” Who in your head are you othering? Who in your head lacks a voice of their own? Who in your head do you need to hear to be brought to a place of understanding, and more importantly, love? What will come of this bridge we begin building is empathy and that is exactly what this world needs. We need unity, we need love, and in order to get there we first need storytelling: sharing our truths, our experiences within one another, to be listened to, to be heard, to be understood and to connect. Connection is the bridge to empathy and from empathy is the train to love and unity. We need to share our truths, and love the pain out of one another.
To be human is to experience both the joys and the pains of what it means to live. We are all already united in that fact right there: everyone of us has and will continue to experience the joys and the pains of humanness. Why not start there? Why not discuss our joys and our pains with one another. Don’t you think you’d benefit from having a few people listen to what’s burdening your heart? Don’t you think you’d feel relieved to have people see passed the pretty, put-together person you are on Instagram, and to know your anxieties and encourage you passed them? How beautiful it would feel to me to know my Instagram “girl crushes” have insecurities too, or that there’s something that keeps them up at night, something that I can say “ahhh, me too.” Isn’t it such a beautiful feeling to hear someone say “me too” and to know you are not alone?
The whole idea behind this blog is to share the human experience according to Kimberly O’Brien. I hold just one chapter in this big book of life and I choose to share my sentiments here in order to put voice to my thoughts, and to connect with and inspire others. What space are you giving yourself to connect more often with others? Whether its bravery, or confidence, or courage, what do you have to make a conscious effort to put on, in order to be transparent and open with another human being? Sometimes, all it takes is just listening to someone else speak, for you to realize that this is what we are meant for: to listen and share with one another. Speaking our truths, sharing our human experiences, is the path to understanding which is the road to love. Don’t you think we could use a bit more love?
Storytelling is much more than what you post on Instagram, because you’ve heard it said that most of the time, what we post on social media, is the good in our lives. We share the highlights, the joys, painting a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing picture of our lives. But what about the monotonous aspects of life? What about the mornings when you wake up and just feel plagued by sadness? What about when your hair doesn’t look like you just stepped out of a Pantene commercial? What about when you fail a test, or you don’t get the job, or you need a mental health day? Where are all of those posts? Where on your Instagram, are the raw and real everyday aspects of life? It’s okay if they are not there. It’s okay for your Facebook and Instagram to serve as a positive scrapbook of your life which highlights the joys and good memories. But we need to be aware that there is more than that. We need to stop comparing our real life struggles with other peoples highlight reels. We need to start communicating with one another, we need to tell our stories.
What’s my story today? Well it’s 7:20 am. I woke up at 5:30, got ready for work, made peanut butter and blueberry toast, and drove to work against the dark and foggy morning. I clocked in, put Lilo & Stitch on as background noise (I work with kids) and began to write about the importance of sharing any story, including this short, dull, and tedious excerpt of a Friday morning in October. I feel sleepy (really in need of a nap) but I’m excited the weekend is in arms reach. And in this moment, I crave nothing more than to be on the beach.
That wasn’t hard, in fact, it was very painless. Some stories won’t be so easy to share. Some feelings won’t be so fun to put into words. Some thoughts or memories will be hard to speak out loud. But it is important that we do it. It is important that we communicate with one another, because that’s what makes life less hard. Real human connection that is what we’re missing. Stop hiding behind your phone, stop denying yourself the voice you were given to put to use. Use your words to paint a picture of who you are and what you’ve experienced. Storytelling—that is what will close the gap between you and them, between you and I.