“You should tell your story.” I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard that.
But what is my story and who really wants to hear it? More importantly, what can people learn from my story?
I have been hesitant to take the next step as far as writing a book or searching for places to speak about my story. In my head, I don’t have the answer to the questions that I think people want to hear.
- How do you get up and face the day?
- How can you keep a positive attitude about life and what’s around the next corner?
If I don’t have a good answer should I stand in front of people who are looking at me expectantly and just shrug when the questions start?
This past week I had to fill out an application. I was applying to be a model for the Breast Cancer Resource Center’s (BCRC) annual gala/fundraising event: ArtBra Austin.
One of the questions asked the applicant to write a brief bio (in 3rd person). I stared at the screen for a solid 15 minutes. I started to write something and then hit the delete button. Then I did it again. And again and again. I finally texted a friend who was also applying and asked what she wrote. As most people would, she started with “xxxxx was born and raised in such and such, Tx”. She went on to say where she went to college and what kind of career she had.
I started typing “Kim was born in Germany”. Delete.
“Kim was raised in the military”. Delete
Was that really the story I wanted to say in my bio? I had to discern what really makes Kim, well, Kim. What would an audience want to know about this woman walking down a runway, in a bra, with a slight limp?
Obviously I had breast cancer because you can’t be a model unless you have been a client of the BCRC. But what else makes me unique? Do they want to know the details of the limp – thank you metastatic breast cancer. Or that I have been metastatic for 9 plus years?
After much consternation, I decided to briefly state that I have been metastatic since 2010 and then wrote about my daughters (no explanation of the limp but that’s another story). I followed with a quick sentence about finding new opportunities to express myself through writing. (I mean I am trying to tell my story through this blog and I have a very rough draft of my first attempt to write fiction).
When it was all said and done, I was not pleased with the bio but it was sufficient for what I was doing. But once again it got me thinking about what is my story and who really wants to know more.
If you were to drive around Austin, you might notice stickers on cars or even signs around town that say “Live a great story” (you can learn more about that here). I love the simple, yet profound, words. Although I’m trying to tell my story through words, I realize my story is not about cancer or grief. My story is made up of so many more things that have helped shape who I am and how I have persevered through some of the ugly to continue to have the opportunity every day to “Live a great story”.
My story is still being written. Maybe not eloquently. But every day I can get up, be present and ask “what will I do today to continue the story of Kim?” And maybe I don’t have to have the answer to those questions. Maybe by seeing me “living a great story” it is enough to encourage those on the path behind me that sometimes just getting up and being present is enough. And maybe, it will give them the strength to ask themselves “What can I do to continue my story?”
Now excuse me while I go order some of those stickers to remind me and those that I encounter to “live a great story”