The Story behind the story

”Those who advance most as human beings are those with the self-awareness to know when they have screwed up, and what they must do to get better. They have lived full lives, yes; but they have also learned deep lessons” – Sunny Bindra

Have you ever found yourself in an audience where the speaker is narrating their ‘dark secrets’ unbeknownst to the world? Do you remember your reactions and those of your fellow attendees? Well, I’ll tell you what I’ve observed in order to jog your memory: Most people’s eyes get sullen; faces give a grimace; arms get folded and if you are keen enough, you’ll notice some people grumbling to their neighbors with visible signs of discomfort. I can’t fully understand why we feel ashamed of the foibles of others, let alone our own. I presume this is a trait that was inculcated in our ‘DNA’ from a tender age through the kind of environments we grew up in and the caregivers we had such that those who make mistakes and experience failures are usually looked down upon or worse ostracized and banished from communities.

But you know what, our generation knows better, don’t we? That sharing our failures, mistakes and mishaps doesn’t make us any weaker. In fact, my favorite columnist Sunny Bindra put it this way: “It is good to look back on at least some parts of our pasts with embarrassment and regret. To do so proves two things: that we have lived, and we have learned.. We have, most of us, done some really dumb stuff in our lives. We have behaved badly; we have let people down; we have been arrogant or unthinking in our actions; we have been gullible and easily led; we have made foreseeable blunders; we have had questionable relationships; we have committed sometimes enormous errors of judgement. And that’s just fine.”

It is on this premise that I share this simple advice: When you finally receive the things you hoped for, don’t just tell the world of the answered prayers; tell us also of the unanswered ones, of the moments when you felt like the Almighty was against you, of the instances when your faith and belief was severely tested. When you finally grasp the truths about your religion inasmuch that you can boldly proclaim them to an audience without fear, be sure to also remind us of the struggles you had trying to comprehend as well as any doubts that crisscrossed your mind years back. When you ultimately become a coding guru, a jazz maestro or a sous chef, in your life story which you’ll share with others, please include the moments you struggled with uncountable errors of code, of the sleepless nights you spent trying to learn the instruments and of the pathetic and unpalatable meals you once prepared.

When your start-up becomes a grown-up, when you scoop the highest of academic accolades, when you finally tie the knot with your significant other, when your children are all grown up and make you proud, when you land your dream job; in your story, never forget to tell the world of the moments when you struggled to keep your business afloat due to bad debts and unforgiving creditors; tell us of the difficulties you encountered juggling between work and school and the toll it had on your mental health; make it known that even though you appear to be the ‘perfect couple’, you still face relational strains; tell us of the moments you doubted your children’s competence and ability to amount to anything especially when they brought home bad grades; tell us of the countless CV’s you sent to recruitment agencies, the regret emails you received and the many times you wanted to hopelessly call it quits.

Why do I emphasize this? For one simple reason: The world is tired of the scripted speeches that many give when they finally ‘make it.’ Some are usually devoid of any intimation of the pain, struggles or rejection suffered en route the ‘way up’. And you know how that makes the ordinary human view such people? As demigods and super-humans, which is blatantly not the case!! The world craves for authenticity which will in turn foster relatability between the audience and the narrator. More so, it reminds the audience of the reality ‘on the ground’ such that unrealistic expectations are therefore shelved and abandoned. Does it mean that we should include every mistake we committed or every undoing in our life records when sharing our stories? Of course not. Some details should remain in the graveyard, between yourself and the Almighty. That said, to the extent you are comfortable, with tact and skill, give the world what it truly needs and that is: The Story behind the Story.

I am privileged that most pieces I share via the Weekly gem are from the lessons I have garnered from real personal experiences and remain eternally grateful to all who take their precious moments, read the content, leaving behind wonderful feedback. Indeed, together we are ENabling Generations Achieve Greatness via Education. Purpose to join me next year for more amazing series’ discussing varied aspects of our lives with the highlight of the year being the Mental Health Awareness Series Season 3 which will take place during the whole month of May 2023.

Till then, cheers good people to a week and lifetime characterized by authenticity!!

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