Should You Tell Your Story?

Last night, my husband and I went to a PechaKucha Night. These events are billed as showcasing “the art of concise presentations.” Presenters are allowed to show 20 slides for 20 seconds each and talk about those slides. The presentation advances automatically, so the speaker has to keep up. He/she can share ideas, work, passions, thoughts, just about anything.

I’ve noticed a growing interest in storytelling lately. Our local newspaper is hosting storytelling events. So is another organization. I’ve seen more calls for storytellers at open mic nights. And local storyteller groups are attracting new members. Why this sudden interest in sharing our thoughts and experiences in person, out loud, to total strangers?

Chalk it up to our disconnected, social media-addicted, binge TV-watching culture. There are only so many hours you can spend staring at technology devices before you crave the feeling of warm bodies all around you, and the look of recognition and appreciation in a fellow human’s eyes.

Storytelling is our oldest art form. It came before visual art and written language. Maybe dance and performance came along with it, maybe it came first. But since the dawn of man, we’ve felt a need to express ourselves.

Stories taught us lessons, showed us how to survive, and helped us feel connected. They also taught us, I suppose, who to fear and maybe who to hate. They helped us understand our natural world and the worlds beyond. Stories are at the heart of every piece of art ever created.

So maybe it’s natural that people are moving beyond telling their stories in blogs and YouTube videos and back to sharing them with people who can laugh or cry or applaud as they speak. They say we Americans are more “divided” than ever. But stories bring us together.

And so we gather in coffee shops, and restaurant patios, and college lecture rooms and listen to people talk about their harrowing climbs up a mountain or the backyard toy they invented or the best advice their mother ever gave them.

“What makes them want to do this?” my husband asked me. “They’re not getting paid. They’re not trolling for clients. Why tell their stories?”

“Because we are all important. We all have something to say. We all have something to teach. You should do it.”

Pause. “Maybe I will.”

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