Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What Tells Your Story?

I had occasion to tell my story today--not for a job interview or anything official, simply to a work colleague I'd recently met. I talked about my start and finish in soaps, and about my unlikely transition to news, and how it all led to now. It was satisfying to think back to many of my experiences and to think about how they'd made the "me" I am now.

Hours after I'd told the story, however, I found myself thinking about the pieces I'd left out. For, while I'd talked a lot about my hyphenated roles in soaps, and how my step into news had put me on a path to where I am now, there were entire pieces--sitcoms and symphonies, puppet dogs and children's media--that did not exist. It was like the resume you are told to write--not a list of every job you've ever done, but selected high points showing a path. Why, I wonder, did I leave out the pieces I left out? Had they suddenly become small blips in what has turned into a very long story? Were they hard to describe, or just not that relevant?

In one way or another, every experience we have is somehow relevant to where we are now. We learn, even from the short steps. We change with each turn we make. But when we tell our story, where do they fit? When we tell our story, how do we define ourselves?

I suppose, at least today, I defined myself as a soap person and a news person, as a directing person and an editing person, with a writing person on the side. It's not that all the other pieces and parts haven't mattered. But the "me" of today's story was the product of the longest part of my career and the most recent part of my career. And the rest was just, well, the rest.

What tells your story? Just as your resume can (should?) be different for each place you send it, your story can (should?) be different each time you tell it. The chapters are all still there--their effect on the whole story doesn't go away. But it's up to you to choose which ones to read out loud, and when and to whom you read them. Because each chapter makes your story a little different. But it's still your story--and it's up to you to choose how to tell it.

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