Your Story is Worth Sharing...

viola davis quote.PNG

I read a little bit of Viola Davis' story in the new book I'm reading "Braving the Wilderness" this morning.
And it gave me the craziest case of goosebumps I've had in a while.
And then she shared the quote to the right.
And you know what? She’s correct.
••••
A lot of people don't or won't share their stories and their struggles. And I totally get why.
We all think that we’re not special and that our experiences don’t have meaning because we haven’t overcome some great setback.
So many of the incredible stories we hear are about people born in poverty who have risen through the ranks of life, who have overcome some incredible disadvantage, disability or trauma and have come out of it so strong. 
Think Oprah.
Heck, if you know here story, think Viola Davis.
And I get why it's daunting to share you story alongside those stories.
We get in our heads that nobody cares because of who we are and where we’ve come from because we're just "average".
Because we haven't faced some of the incredible things that others have.
We compare our experiences to theirs and think "What's make my experience special?"
And we think we’re not enough.
••••
But I’m telling you now that your story and your struggles will MEAN something to someone.
Why? Because there's so much shit that people don't talk about.
There's so many insecurities that people won't address for fear of judgment, or sometimes just for fear of being vulnerable.
I get it.
It's hard to put yourself out there.
It's hard to even say "my story has value" for fear that you will be judged for "thinking your better than other people."
That's something that I've explicitly experienced.
The "how dare you share you story. You're not special."
And yet, as much as I share, there are a lot of aspects of my story that I didn’t share for a long time or haven't shared explicitly.
Why?
Because I’m an upper middle class white girl.
I never wanted seem ungrateful.
I never wanted to complain.
I have been given wonderful opportunities and I have come from a position in my life where the world is at my finger tips.
I'm not denying that and so many times I hesitate to share something I've experienced because I don't want to seem like I'm complaining or that I'm taking any of my gifts and blessings for granted. 
But that doesn’t mean my experiences don’t have value to someone.
••••
I mean, I have let external pressures drive my career choices.
Literally, I chose my career in life, yes partly out of interest, but also because I wanted to impress people.
I wanted to do something that someone as "smart" as me should be doing with their life.
If I'd truly listened to my passions and instincts and not my fears or the opinions of others, I would've ended up doing something else with my life.
Something that I was far more passionate about.
I let comments about my weight drive my opinions about whether I had value or was attractive.
Comments from strangers, bystanders and even sometimes from people I was closest to.
I settled in relationships because I was afraid of being alone.
I've felt like I wasn't enough because everyone in my family and in my life is seemingly in a relationship with someone wonderful and I'm not.
I let myself be bullied on multiple occasions in graduate school because I didn’t want to be seen as a troublemaker or someone that didn’t get along with people.
I have shared some of these struggles and REALLY connected with people over them.
But admittedly, there are still a lot of things I haven't talked about publicly.
Out of fear or insecurity?
I don't know. It's hard to say.
I'm still working up the courage to.
And it may seem hypocritical for me to tell you to share your stories when I haven't shared all of mine, but I'm willing to take that risk.
Because I know that every single time I've read a story that resonates with me, I get that much closer to feeling understood.
I feel that connection that sometimes it feels like I'm lacking.
It makes me feel like common humanity is actually something that exists in this world and not just something that I've read about.
••••
So I'm telling you now, share your story.
So you didn’t go to college but have a kick ass job that you love.
Don’t NOT share because you’re afraid of being judged for not going to college.
Because that will inspire the hell out of the kid in the same boat. ••••
So you burned a bridge.
Don’t NOT talk about it because you are afraid of being judged for the things you said or did.
Do it to inspire someone to think before they speak or a men’s a relationship they broke.
••••
How much could me sharing my stories have helped others?
Or how much could someone else sharing their stories have helped me?
It's hard to say! 
May I still would've struggled with some of the things I've struggled with.
Maybe I would've ended up in exactly the same place! 
I don't know.
But it's also possible that, even having experienced those same things, I would have ended up better. 
Still me, still the same girl underneath it all, but more confident, braver.
Maybe I would've been more capable of being myself sooner in life.
••••
I don't know your story.
I don't know what's ever held you back from sharing.
But I want to know.
Not just because I want to know and understand you, but I want to connect with you.
Not on a superficial likes and dislikes, "What do you do for a living?" kind of bullshit level that we currently live in.
I want to know you on a deeper vulnerable level.
I want to find those little slivers of common humanity that can pull us closer together.
To make us realize that despite all of our differences, we're the same.
••••
I hope more people have the courage to unapologetically share their story.
There are people that need to hear it.
So share them.
And help someone else in the process.

Ellyn SchinkeComment