Exactly one month ago, on June 10, I made a commitment to myself that I would blog on a daily basis for over 30 days. I wanted a chance to tell my story, give words to the fundamental ideas that have been helping to drive my decisions, and to get to know you a little better. Now that time is almost over; I’ll probably continue for just a few more days, but then I’m going to cut back to a couple of times a week.
I expected the daily writing to be a challenge, and it has been. I also expected it to be exciting, digging into my passion and my hope for the future of this company; it has not disappointed there either. There has been, however, something unanticipated and beautiful that has come from these days as well.
The sharing of stories.
Through emails, private messages, and public comments, I have been honored with the trust of many of you out there who have chosen to share your story with me. I have sat at my computer with tears in my eyes as I’ve read some of the stories. My heart has ached and my hands have shaken as I’ve absorbed the power and emotion behind the words. And I’ve held that trust tightly in a corner of my heart, knowing how difficult it was for some of you to write to me about your own journeys.
As I’ve read many of these stories, it has helped me to understand even more deeply something that I already realized: our stories can be incredibly powerful. And that power has the potential to either persuade us to keep ourselves hidden or to have the courage to share our light with the world.
Either way, the stories of our past have an incredible potential to shape what we do in the future. And much of that potential relies on what we decide to do with the stories.
Making your personal story a public matter isn’t for everyone (and trust me, there are days when it has been very hard for me to do so, too). But stories don’t need to be public for them to be transformative. Stories just need to be told. Somehow, someway, they live into their fullest potential by getting outside of you and into the light.
I know that last paragraph may seem like a contradiction. Hang with me.
The power in your story can manifest even if you are only telling your story to yourself. In fact–earlier this year, that’s how I realized I wanted to take Handcrafted Honey Bee in the direction of affirming and empowering women. I began to write down my own story.
It was late January, and I began to write a book. At first, I wanted it to be a book about skin care, but it unexpectedly started off telling part of my story. The book quickly turned autobiographical, and I soon found myself writing about parts of my life that I hadn’t pulled out of the shadows in years. I began to bring some of my most difficult and painful memories into the light. I struggled deeply, realizing old wounds that hadn’t completely healed.
But it didn’t immediately make me feel better. In fact, I went into a pretty dark depression for several months, grappling with old demons, holding the tension of deep regret. The pain of wounded relationships and bad decisions seared through me like a scab that had been ripped off. I didn’t want to think about these things again–and it was difficult to face them with the eyes of a more mature and introspective version of myself.
And then, seventy pages into my “book,” I stopped writing. Like a switch that had been flipped, I knew I had written enough. It had served its purpose.
I had written about some of the most difficult years of my life, but it dawned on me one afternoon–with a deep and calm clarity–that this book was not supposed to be a collection of stories for all to see. Its purpose was a means for the shadows to be brought into the light. I had done the work that needed to be done to take the next step in my journey. And while I’ll still write a book in the future, it became clear to me that afternoon that those 70 pages were for me alone.
I needed to tell my story…to myself.
Many of you out there have powerful stories. They are stories that should be told, even if yours are the only ears that ever hear them. At first it seems like a fruitless exercise–after all, you already know your story, right? After all, it’s in your head already. You lived it.
But words have power. Even if you are the only one who hears them.
And there is nothing wrong if you are moved to share your story with a trusted friend. Or your sister. Or your teenage daughter. Or your pastor. Or your spouse.
But it’s also okay if your story is yours alone. Maybe its power lies in the pages of a journal, needing only your eyes to know and acknowledge and absorb…and then release, carving out a space for a new story to fill.
Regardless of how you decide to share your story, your story has an intrinsic value. It contributes to who you are–it has molded and shaped you, each step building upon the next. And some of the most difficult steps were also likely the most transformative. It’s even possible that the transformation is not done yet.
I encourage you to believe in the power of your story. I also encourage you to get it out of yourself–write it down, record it, tell it over coffee. Respect your journey by acknowledging the path.
And then once you bring it into the light, be open to what your heart might tell you should be written on the next page. One of the best things about stories is that you never know what the end might be.