Everyday we hear stories. Television shows, commercials, movies, social media, lunchroom gossip, all of these are forms of storytelling, even if we may just consider them a part of life. We are surrounded by the tales of others along with the one's we tell ourselves influencing our perceptions and how we look at the world around us. The trouble is that often these stories are overlooked when put into a context of the phrase "Tell me a story about yourself." With that people often choke. They may say something trite like "I'm boring" or they may say that they don't have anything worth sharing. But if we have all lived don't we all have some story to tell? The stories we tell are in fact how we live.
My fascination with storytelling came at a young age. I had an extremely vivid imagination and I would often spend hours developing intense storylines for my barbies or toy animals. I would also play a game with my dad where I would pick any object or thing from a toaster to a tree, and he would have to create a story about that item. We would create one of these stories every night before bed. As I grew older and could write for myself I would dabble with creating my own short stories that were usually fiction. Later in college, I was a teaching assistant for a storytelling class, and now I document stories from older adults at a senior center.
My experience with spinning tales and memories isn't necessarily everyone's, but being interested in the value of the story can create openings for empathy and communication in world that currently seems to be lacking in those traits. Storytelling does not need to be as defined as standing in front of an audience or group and spilling personal information or a fiction piece you worked up. It can be as easy as sitting with a friend and talking with one another.
The world needs storytellers. Children who learn to tell stories at a young age develop greater literacy rates. Those who listen and tell stories develop empathy and an understanding for each other's human emotion, as storytelling can be thought of as a form of catharsis. Stories have the ability to teach, to entertain, to excite, to impart morality, to express beauty, to incite change in a society that needs it, and to inspire others to strive for what is right. The advocates for change we see currently are those who speak out with their own stories. Let us look to current news for examples: The Women's March was a story in itself, fabricated by millions of others' stories that inspired even more people to continue to fight for rights and justice. Then there are those who told their story in response to the Dakota Access Pipeline, to try to reveal why it needed to be stopped. And now those innocent Muslims and refugees who tell their stories to a nation about how they deserve to be heard and protected just as we all deserve these rights. All of these movements and responses to injustice are shared with the world via storytelling.
Your own story may not be "special" or "interesting" to you, but to others it may be just what is needed to inspire change, action, or simply happiness. Everyone has a story. So what is stopping you from sharing yours?