It happens all the time. Someone says, “Tell me a little about yourself,” or asks, “What do you do?” or I’m asked to introduce myself to a group, so I grab a piece of my history, mix it with a bit of now, and spin a tale for my audience. The protagonist is always me and, depending on time, may be the only character in my story.
How do we choose what to tell someone or a group when our time is limited? How do we choose to define ourselves to others? And does this telling reflect what we see in the mirror, or is it a piece of fiction designed to make a good impression?
This week’s journaling prompts are designed to help us examine our private and public stories, and our reasons for telling them.
- When someone asks, “What do you do?” what do you say? Do you begin with the words “I am …” or “I work …” (or some other verb)? In what ways do you identify yourself with the work or the things you do on a daily basis? And, in what ways do you separate who you are from what you do?
- How is what you say to a professional group or individual different than what you say to an informal group (such as a club) or individual? Write about the differences in the ways you present yourself and the reasons for the differences. Do you try to make yourself sound “better” than you believe yourself to be when introducing yourself in the professional realm? Why or why not?
- What would you prefer that no one know about you, and why?
- What would you like everyone to know about you, and why?
- If you could be truly vulnerable, let down your guard, and tell your true story to someone you’ve just met, without fear of judgment, what would you say?
- How do you define your life? Is your “true” story primarily one of pain or happiness? Do you consider your life to have been mostly easy or mostly difficult? Is it possible to see the events in your life from another perspective? For example, if you’ve viewed your life as mostly difficult and/or painful, how would you life be perceived from the point of view of someone in extreme poverty, or from a continually war-torn country? And if you think of you life as mostly easy, what kind of person might consider your life as difficult? How does thinking about your life as viewed from these other perspectives inform your story telling?
- Complete the following sentences:
I am …
I love …
I grew up …
I live …
I want to …Then, freewrite for ten minutes about the answers you gave and how they contribute to your life story.
What would you like your story to be?