Telling Good Stories is Hard

There’s a recent Decoder Ring episode about The Storytelling Craze — how storytelling became a trendy tool for businesses to sell products and where it’s going. In school, stories are often shared as cautionary tales, narratives wrapped with a perfect bow to teach a lesson at the end. On social media, storytelling is almost synonymous with growth which can lead to social capital. It is emphasized as an important skill creatives need to market themselves effectively today. Instead of a tool, I am much more interested in looking at stories as portals that make way for care and connection.

In grade one, I was retelling Goldilocks & the Three Bears for a competition on stage. I remember practicing over and over again on my expressions and delivery under my teacher’s guidance. I reminded myself to take a deep breath before Goldilocks broke the chair, and made faces when I pretended to taste different bowls of oatmeal. I knew how the story ended, so all I had to do was perform accordingly.

Somewhere somehow without guidance, I felt like my stories could only be told if they were *worth* telling. I’ve been so lost about where I am going in life ever since returning from Hong Kong. I am staring at blank pages wishing I can foresee the lesson at the end of the chapter so I can skip this stage of dread. I feel stuck on the “how” and most definitely the “why” with my career in arts, especially when the world feels so sinister. I am trying to find new ways to honour and embrace the multiplicities of my interests while making a tangible impact. How that looks — I am not quite sure. In more ways than one, I am learning to surrender to situations beyond my control; learning to surf the waves between trusting myself and those I’m working with, learning to find a middle ground between overplanning and feeling underprepared; and learning to just *do* the work instead of *worrying* about doing the work.

I attended a TedX event with stories centering around renewed ways to care last week. Four speakers shared anecdotes with captivating confidence that sparked many conversations that evening. It’s unlikely any of them saw the power within their experiences when they were going through life at the time, before uncovering the links for the talks in hindsight.

Telling good stories is hard, telling great stories that empower is even harder. And I think that’s ultimately what I want to work towards — sharing empowering stories, if for no one else than the younger me who believed her voice had no place. For now, I’m stumbling in new territories to see what works.

Like Goldilocks, maybe you too can invite yourself to places you’ve never been before, to try things you’ve been itching to try, until you settle in a chair that fits you just right, enjoying a bowl that tastes just right.

Whichever way you grow, I hope you rediscover the unfamiliar in-between spaces that bring you delight. 

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