This isn't your average spring break article. I say that because my spring break wasn't your average spring break. I traded Destin, Florida and getting to sleep in for New York City and early mornings spent on Columbia University's campus getting to know the students there. If I'm completely honest, I wouldn't trade the experience of getting to hear other people's stories for the life of me.
The most astounding thing about people's stories to me is that no one is the same. Now, I know you are probably thinking that I should've known that going into it, and I did, but it was more than that. The uniqueness of our stories reflects the uniqueness of us as people. Each of us has experienced different obstacles along the way, yet here we all are. To me, stories tell you more about a person that those stupid 'get to know you' questions they ask on the first day of class every semester.
Why do I care so much about stories? Well, I strongly believe that it is within a person's story that you see their heart. As they sit their exposed and vulnerable letting you into the monsters that they hide in the back of their closets you get to see the reality of humanity, that we are all broken. Without stories, all of our relationships would be nothing more than surface level and we would never be able to empathize with each other.
Why did it take a week in New York with seven other students from UNC to truly demonstrate to me the power of stories? Maybe it was the late nights sitting in room 1611 of Hotel Pennsylvania as each of the eight of us told our testimonies. A group of nearly complete strangers sat together night in and night out for a week getting to know each other on a level that I haven't even reached with people I've known for years. With each new story that was told, I began to realize how similar to these people I was. No, we did not all share the same stories or even background, but each of our paths were perfectly crafted to lead us to that hotel room for a week during the middle of March. If that isn't powerful then I don't know what is.
Each of us has a story, that's the beauty of it. No one is above having their own history that molded them into the person they are today. The part that I still find myself fumbling over is if each of us has a story why aren't we taking time out of our day to hear more of them? We live in a society that emphasizes (and even incentivizes) a fast-paced lifestyle akin to that of New York City. The irony of it all is that in the fast-paced lifestyle of NYC Columbia students took time out of their days and sat down with complete strangers and allowed us to hear a smidgen of their stories. If they can take time out of their chaotic, midterm filled days to have conversations with us for even five minutes why can't the rest of us follow suit?
Moral of the story: take time to hear the stories of those around you. Our stories are powerful and are what can bind us all together. Your story is important, so tell it!