I'm going to tell you a story from my childhood.
It's a story about a story, actually.
It was junior or senior year of high school. Our English teacher asked us to write a character study.
My best friend and I loved to write. We were focused on improving our craft and took writing assignments seriously.
I found out that she'd written a bunch of character studies about our friends. To be fair, she'd meant it as a personal writing exercise not to be shared. Still, her character study of me found its way into my hands.
I was excited to see what she'd written.
I was not prepared for what she wrote.
Her "character study" focused on my mom's kitchen. The torn linoleum floor. The hole in the kitchen cabinet where the previous owners had kicked it. The horrid yellowness of the flower basket wallpaper (on this part I could agree.)
My best friend had written a character study that didn't include a single word about me. It was all about my crappy kitchen.
[Wee-bey captures my feelings perfectly.]
I was stunned. Did I mention this was my best friend?
She'd had plenty of time to observe. My friend was a guest in this kitchen many evenings, feet planted underneath our yellow plastic-covered table, praising the gourmet meals my mom whipped up on her shoestring budget.
Reading her assessment is my earliest, most searing memory of shame.
I knew we had less. I wasn't proud of our kitchen. But until I read that character study, I didn't realize that people who knew me would associate my family's socioeconomic status with my worth as a person.
As painful as that memory is 20+ years later, my friend's story doesn't define me.
We carry our stories with us. Some shout at us daily. Some whisper to us when we try to stretch ourselves. Some run silently in the background, yet still powerfully control our world view.
It's important that we separate these stories from who we are. Our past or current circumstances do not dictate our potential.
That tacky, yellow, falling-apart kitchen is a setting for many stories and characters.
One particularly inspiring character is my mom, who continuously sets the bar high. Despite getting knocked down in spectacular ways, she got back up, reinvented herself, and became an advocate for others.
My mom showed me that food served with love tastes delicious--no matter where it's cooked. She taught me that real class is opening your home with generosity to those who would turn around and judge it.
That's the story I choose to carry forward.
Pick one story you want to rewrite.
It doesn't need to be from childhood. Maybe it's about a bad boss, failed relationship, or a wrong turn in your career.
Don't change the facts, how you felt, or how it impacted you. Feel the feelings. Then rewrite it to take back your power. Connect the story with where you want to go.
I'd love to hear it when you're ready to share.
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