In recent posts, I’ve written that creating lists, identifying a theme, preparing timelines and doing research are good steps toward creating your own personal history. In my last post, I provided a list of questions to ask to help explore your thoughts, feelings and experiences.
As you go through the questions, you may struggle with those that bring to mind difficult times. What about those uncomfortable parts of your story? How will you feel sharing those? What will people think?
Well, everyone I’ve ever talked to has experienced difficult times or at least ups and downs in life. Do you want to share yours? Maybe. Maybe not.
The decision belongs to the person whose story you are telling, so if even if you’re working on someone else’s story, encourage them to consider these suggestions. If it’s your life, it’s your call. Either way, it’s not a decision to be made hastily, or even early in the process.
Begin by writing everything. Pour out your experiences. Get everything on paper. Document what happened. At this point, you don’t have to worry about what others will think. You’re not sharing anything at this point. Don’t worry about telling all sides of the story. This is your story and your experience is your truth.
When you are finished with that section, let it set for a while; maybe a week or two. Move on to another part of your story. When you come back, you can review what you wrote with fresh eyes. You can decide then. Maybe you want to leave it in. Maybe you want to take it out. Maybe you’ll tweak it a little. If you still can’t decide, move on again and revisit that part again later.
Even if you decide to leave your struggles out, you may come away with a fresh perspective. Some experiences are better understood through the filter of time or in the context of a lifetime. Perhaps you’ll develop a better appreciation of the struggles and accomplishments that have made you who you are. Maybe you’ll just be grateful you survived.
Hopefully, though, you will decide to share your struggles. If you do, the people who read your story will hear what you learned and what you survived. Your story will demonstrate to others that struggle is a part of life and there can be light on the other side of dark times.
In my next post, I’ll share suggestions for possible formats for your story.
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