Who Tells Your Story?
Who is telling your story? Is it you, on your blog? Are you controlling the narrative on your social media feeds, presenting the you you want the rest of the world to see? Is it someone else, writing about you? Is no one telling your story? Does it matter if stories are told if they’re going to be forgotten a generation or two later regardless?
Sit with that for a moment.
I am really loving this month’s BlogHer Writing Lab theme, especially on the heels of Hamilton and this idea of the legacy you leave behind. What will you be remembered for? How will your close friends and family describe your life? How will a stranger describe your life? Can we really control the narrative? I’m not sure.
Image: Bruce Guenter via Flickr
A friend and I were recently talking about how much of your story you tell other people. By not telling something, are you sending the message that you’re ashamed of that aspect of your life or trying to sweep it under the rug?
There is a lot I don’t tell you. Some of it is because it’s boring. I spend about 40% of my waking hours worrying. Do you really want to hear my looping anxiety? I feel like you get enough of it organically without having me subject you to the full tidal wave of my neuroses. Probably 2% of my waking hours is spent seething with jealousy. It doesn’t really make for good blog fodder. 5% of my waking hours is spent pestering the people in this house with various “what ifs,” contemplating getting a dog, and reading about new video games.
I just don’t lead that exciting a life. I don’t tell you about a large chunk of it because I don’t want to put you to sleep.
Some of it is just to have a delineation between inner life and outer life, inside the house and outside the house. There needs to be a reason to be close to another person, and part of that comes from being let into an inner circle. I’m in Josh’s inner circle. He’s in mine. He should therefore get more than me than the general world. And while there are friends that I’ve made through this blog, there are also thousands of silent readers who shouldn’t get as much of me as people I converse with off-blog.
I described it to my friend as determining who is important to you and therefore wants to know you, as opposed to who just wants to know something for the sake of knowing it and not to be closer to you:
I think of all the moments that happen in my day that I don’t feel guilty not sharing with the world. I’m not doing so to be deceptive or to lie or to pretend otherwise. It’s just that it’s also important to get to decide what we share and what we don’t. I don’t know. I would bet that you tell the story to the people who are important. Everyone else is important in THEIR story, but they’re not important in YOUR story, therefore they don’t get all the pages.
I guess I don’t see nefarious reasons for only getting part of the story when it comes to the online world. I assume I’m only getting part of your story. I assume there are people closer to you — either in physical proximity or emotional connection — who get more of it.
The twins are nearing an age where they could write about me if they wished. They certainly have the skills, though I don’t think they see me as interesting subject matter. I am super interested in them, and they are super interested in me being interested in them. But I’m only mildly interesting in my own right. I am like a 3 on the interesting scale.
I’ve been very circumspect when writing about them because I knew this day would arrive. When they would want to write about their own lives and I would be a character in their story. How would they portray me? A screechy woman who is always telling them to clean their room? A slightly agoraphobic woman who bleaches the sink and vacuums daily? An attentive woman who still reads to them and is willing to answer any question? A silly woman who often tells them to drop everything so we can go play video games? Because they’re all true, to an extent. I am a screechy, agoraphobic, attentive, silly woman at times.
Have you thought about that? That the people you write about — even in a loving way — can turn around and write about you, too? Isn’t it sobering to think that when that happens, you won’t be controlling the narrative. But you’ll have to live it, the way the world sees you, through someone else’s eyes.
Maybe that is the best reason to keep a blog. Tell or be told.
So are you telling your story? And what is the narrative?