Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why It's Time To Share Your Story

Since taking my first class on journalism when I was in middle school, I’ve been told that everyone has a story. That every person I’ve met has something to say, a battle to fight, a mountain to climb and a dream to chase.

And it’s true. Everyone has a story to tell. Which means you have a story to tell.

From being a terrible high school newspaper sports reporter to where I am now as a staff writer for FIU, I’ve talked with hundreds if not thousands of people for many different stories. And every single person I’ve talked to, from Martha Stewart to the custodian who made sure the student center at the university I studied at and now work for stayed clean for 33 years, had their own story in the form of the lives they’ve lived.

In my own life, I’ve had the privilege of knowing people who have amazing stories -- stories that have inspired me, motivated me, and humbled me. But some of those awesome stories have never been told. The ones who hold those stories have kept them locked up for one reason or another. Sometimes it's fear, or embarrassment, or they just don't think their story is worth telling.

But it is definitely worth sharing because you’ve been through things that I’ve never been through. You’ve been to places I have never traveled to. You know people that I don’t know and met with people I don’t know exist. You know things I know nothing about. Oh yes, you have a heckuva story to tell.

Not only do you have a story to tell, you are the story. You are filled to the brim with triumphs and defeats, mountain peaks and valley lows, laughter and tears, joy and pain. And the really cool part is that your story is still not finished. It's still a work in progress.

I'm not going to lie to you: it is scary to put yourself out there for the world to see. It’s already difficult to share a part of your soul with close friends, let alone complete strangers. I still struggle with it. There will be haters and critics and people who won't understand. But if and when you decide to share your story, you won't be doing it for them.

Your story could change lives. Your story could make someone laugh, think and reflect. It could help a teenage kid somewhere know they are not alone in their struggles. It could teach all of us a thing or two about having compassion for one another, help us see the world in a new way and maybe even help somebody understand something they didn't fully grasp before.    

There are a bunch of ways you can share your story. Maybe it’s that blog you haven’t posted in since 2011. Or maybe it's through videos on YouTube. It could be conversations with the friends you’ve been keeping at arm’s length away. It could be that small group at church you sit at every week but don’t say anything. Or maybe it’s just beginning to be open with God, who you’ve been trying to run away from.

Whatever it looks like in your life, share your story. We need to hear your voice. You have a story to tell. So what are you waiting for? Let’s hear it.

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