I’m standing at the front of the room about to tell fifty people some things about me that no one knows.
The silence feels heavy.
Fifty faces are focused on me. As I scan the room I see close personal and business friends; acquaintances, and quite a few strangers. My husband is studiously avoiding my gaze.
Beverley is on the far left; she’s the only person who knows what I’m going to say. She told me it’s a good story, I hope she’s right.
Trusting these people with my vulnerability is a massive leap of faith but I’m not nervous; I feel calm, grounded and present.
For the first few sentences my voice sounds nervous but I soon get into my flow and ten minutes passes in a flash. The next thing I know I’ve got to the end and I’m thanking the audience for holding me safely and gently. The loudness of their applause takes me by surprise.
I savour it.
I walk back to my seat a different person; one who is stronger, more confident, and most importantly relieved that my story has been released into the world.
It has no hold over me now.
In my last blog I suggested that one way to take control of your life; to own your story and write your ending is to tell it.
So in the spirit of leading by example I recently told a story at The Story Party. This is an event where eight people tell a ten minute personal story, without notes, to an audience. The theme was Traveller’s Tales and the story I told was of my adventures over the past two years to make peace with myself and my Yorkshire roots. I’ll share the video with you in due course.
Here are five things I learned.
1. You have to tell it from a scar, not an open wound.
Just a like a physical wound, talking about emotional hurt, if you tell the story too soon it can open you up to further pain. I couldn’t have told that story a few months ago because my healing process wasn’t yet complete.
2. Telling it sets you free.
As the saying goes; ‘the truth will set you free’ and it certainly feels like that. Carrying the story for so long made me feel heavy inside and now that I’ve shared it I feel lighter and freer. I also feel more confident, almost as though I’m walking taller. It has no power over me now.
3. When you write it, you realise how far you’ve come
Writing my story enabled me to look back over the past couple of years and realise how much I’ve changed in that time. This only became apparent because I wrote it down.
4. You help others.
I’ve had several emails and comments from audience members on how they recognised themselves in my story, and how inspired they were by hearing it.
5. You write your own ending
Now that I’ve told my story it feels like I’ve moved beyond it and put it firmly in the past. I am ready to move out and on in the world, and write my own ending.
What about you?
Now I’m not suggesting that you necessarily do so as publicly as I did, but I’d like to challenge you to share some part of your story, by writing it down or with someone else. You can share it here (anonymously if you prefer) with a friend or as an Inspirational Story. Please let us know how it felt.
And you can read more about The Story Party here.