“What’s your story?” is a question I seem to get asked a lot these days. I guess that’s exciting — it means I’m talking to new people who want or need to know more about me quickly. Asking an open question can be very revealing — it’s a tactic that I love to use in my professional life.
But now the boot’s on the other foot and I find that it’s actually a really hard question to answer. Of course it is — that’s its power.
For a start, it’s highly contextual. I’ve not offered anywhere near the same answer in the three or four times recently I’ve been asked. It’s also really difficult to answer relevantly but without second-guessing what the person needs to hear and filtering out stuff that might actually have been gold-dust.
It’s also a pretty scary, just telling it how it is. I’m practicing letting my guard down and trusting that the listener has sensitive ears and a warm heart. And as I hear myself telling chapters of my story, the relevant vignettes, it sounds almost like someone else. It’s certainly not the story I habitually tell myself, the edited, critically over-analysed version. I’m finding the story I tell others when I’m doing my absolute best not to judge and filter and edit actually sounds a pretty good story.
And the main character is très cool, of course! 😉
Most of these question sessions have had some serious point behind them, but I had a great informal story-swapping moment in the optician the other day. I made a new friend — an elderly woman who lives one street away, went to the same university as me studying the same subject, is Greek Orthodox (and loved that I said I would be, if I weren’t atheist!), knows the place where I met my Hubby, and has a rebellious and irreverent attitude that really appealed! She’s straight on my party list for the January gathering I’m planning. We ended up staying in the opticians talking for more than an hour, way after our glasses were ready. Too much fun!
I wonder who I’ll meet when I go to the dentist for my checkup?
image source: http://heatherraehutzel.com/whats-your-story/