What’s the story you want to tell?
It happens to everyone. We all go through something tough, something challenging, something that takes us by surprise or something heartbreaking and we have a decision to make. Usually these are decisions we were never planning to have to make in the first place. When it’s all said and done, years later, what’s the story you want to tell?
No matter what difficult situation you’re in right now or what tough moments you’re currently going through, breathe. Later on it’s going to be a story to tell. This incredibly difficult thing and these tough decisions are just another part of your tale and in time, the thing that you are going through right now is just another chapter and another addition to your story. It will be a part of your overall story that you’ll be able to look back and say, “I remember when….” The good thing is, we all have a choice in what that story looks like. Not in what happened or the circumstances given–that part we have no control over–but in how we handle it and what we do.
I know a friend whose wife left him and his three small kids for their realtor after they just relocated to a new state. How he handled that situation, how he treated her, how he acted during and after the divorce is part of the story that he has to tell his kids…and tell his future wife later on. I know multiple friends who lost their houses during the housing bust. Financially devastated. What they did, the choices they made, and how they handled those losses and how they picked up the pieces and moved forward is now a part of their story. What happens when a family member suddenly passes away, or when a natural disaster takes out everything you’ve ever loved or known? Job losses and how unemployment, job hunting, and maintaining communication and relationships with family during that time frame is part of the story.
Tragedy happens. Difficulties happen. Unfair things happen. That part is out of our control. But what is in our control is our reactions and how we handle those moments. It’s not just about the “getting through” and the “going through” process, but about what we want our story to look like years down the road as we tell it in the other chapters of our lives to the other people in our lives. The struggle is part of the story.
When I flunked out of college I… When I lost my job I… When I got cancer I… When my kid went south and became pregnant I… When he got deployed I… When he passed away I… Or when she left me I… These are the things that combine into the overall story of our lives. These defining moments and surprise decisions are what create our individual and personal story. There’s always a story to tell.
Even every day living is part of our tale. When we’re single, how we act and what we do becomes our backstory for when we meet that significant someone. What’s really fun to hear are how two single people’s stories collide and become one tale. At weddings and engagements we always want to know how two people met. We want to know the love story. Oh, how the choices we make determine the type of tale we can tell! When we don’t even know it, we are writing our own story. (And maybe even the story of someone else!)
The question is–are we doing things that we want to be a part of our story and tell about? Are we creating the type of story that we even want to tell at all? Or are we brave enough to ask ourselves if we’re making choices that later on we won’t want to talk about? Hide that part of the story. In light of our past experiences, our present circumstances and our future hopes and dreams, are we making the choices and decisions that are creating a story we want to tell? There’s always that one moment, that one decision, that one chance that can take the story in a completely different direction. The funny thing, sometimes we know when those moments are and sometimes we don’t.
Who knows? Right now, there may be a decision that needs to be made or a choice that can take you in one direction or another. The question is not necessarily what should you do, the question may be what story is it that you want to tell?
Whatever it is, make it a story you want to tell. Go ahead, make it a good one!
QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:
- “The struggle is part of the story.” – Whitney English
- “If you don’t want anyone to find out, don’t do it.” – Chinese Proverb
- “Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.” – Bill Cosby
- “May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela