In my day job, from time to time, I interview prospective employees. Usually they’ve submitted a résumé: you know that bulleted list of stuff like education, work experience, etc. I seldom even look at their résumé. I don’t want to know the list. I want to know their story. Maybe that résumé includes some plot points of their story; maybe not.
If you ask someone to tell you about themselves, they do not say, “Bullet #1, I was born in Walla Walla, Washington in 1969. Bullet #2, graduated Walla Walla High School… They tell you a story.
“When people tell others about themselves, they kind of have to do it in a narrative way—that’s just how humans communicate. But when people think about their lives to themselves, is it always in a narrative way, with a plot that leads from one point to another? There’s an old adage that everyone has a book inside of them.” --from The Atlantic
Think about your narrative, the story of your life, the setting, the characters, the plot and the twists in the tale. Some chapters may be comedy, some undoubtedly are tragic.
Is your story like a book that starts, “Once Upon A Time…”, or is it more like a series of short stories lined up on a shelf, somewhat connected but each could stand on its own?
Here’s something scary cool. We are the characters in other people’s stories. The crazy uncle, the teacher who cared, the loving spouse, the creepy boyfriend, the spoiling grandmother, the doctor bearing bad news…
It seems like on every coffee table, in every barber shop and doctor’s office in my first coming-of-age I remember seeing a copy of Reader’s Digest. One of the features of the magazine was called, “My Most Unforgettable Character.” People submitted storis about the real “characters” of their lives.
Thinking back, who are your most unforgettable characters.
For most of my growing up years we lived next door to my Uncle Bob and Aunt Betty and their four kids. They were wonderful people to live next door to. Our families did everything together; everything except go to church. We were Baptist, they were not. Church and the characters there have always been a huge part of my story. While I loved all of that, I was so glad to learn from my Aunt Betty that you could go to dances, and that boys and girls could swim in the same pool at the same time and you would still go to heaven.
I am fully aware now that for our Grand-Girls there is a character in their story that they call “Pops.” It is a role I cherish and I want to get it right. I’m not expecting to get any awards, but if I did, I would want one of those they give to people in “a supporting role.” I want to bring a little adventure to their stories along with a some comedy and maybe mystery. But mainly I want to be one of the characters that was there for them, with unconditional love, encouragement and adoration.