“It’s what I strive for every time I open my mouth- that impossible connection.” – Sarah Kay
Sarah Kay is one of my favorite spoken word poets. Through her elaborate method of storytelling, she shares her values, her pain, her hopes, and her successes. Simply by listening to her words through a computer speaker, we are able to make the “impossible connection” and share in her life- even for a brief moment.
Some say that storytelling is an art, only to be perfected by a select few. I say that is stupid. Storytelling is what we do every time we meet someone new, every time we start a conversation, every time we take a moment to say hello. Every interaction we have with another person lends itself to sharing some sort of story. However, we often view our opportunities to share stories with others as business transactions- let me tell you something for something in exchange. We only share stories that are limited by our fear of what the other person may think about us. For example, when meeting a new person, we may share our name, what we do for a living, and where we are from in exchange for the same information from them. By taking this approach, we lose the chance to be vulnerable and courageous- to share who we are as a person through the exchange of stories.
There is a concept called the “Enneagram of Personality”, which categorizes individuals into 9 different personality types. I fall into the personality of the Individualist, known as expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental. Although I (and the majority of my friends) will never argue against any of those labels, there was one aspect that took me aback when learning more about the Individualist. Those who have this personality are known for wearing a mask- creating a secondary life to share with others, yet keeping who they truly are a secret from the world. When I first read this description, I was angry and tried to think of all the ways that the entire principle of the Enneagram are wrong- aka dramatic and temperamental. However, as time has gone on, I realize how true that description actually is and how the Individualist could actually be used to describe the normative standard of today.
Through the way that we interact with others, we create an image or brand that we often refuse to let go of- even if it means losing out on the opportunity to have genuine, vulnerable relationships with others. We conduct business transactions instead of sharing stories. We fear putting our mask aside and letting who we truly are come through. My challenge to you (oh yeah, getting personal now) is to share 1 story with the next person you interact with. 1 story that shows who you really are. It can be as simple as explaining what made you happy today or the most beautiful thing you’ve seen this week- all I ask is that you take a moment to be vulnerable, be courageous, be a storyteller.