A life review can be looked at as one of the primary tools for carving out who we are. It’s a way to look at what our existence means. Have you ever thought about telling your story? Your desire to document and communicate your personal story can largely contribute to how you will be remembered.
Storytelling serves so many purposes. To name just a few, personal storytelling:
- Promotes self-understanding
- Preserves personal and collective history
- Connects generations
- Strengthens relationships
- Sometimes transcends the material world and physical limitations
- Sometimes allows for identification of universal themes of humanity.
In a sense, some personal stories can reinforce coping mechanisms. In these trying times, telling your story might be the best gift you give yourself. Taken to heart, it has the ability to help you cope with the uncertainty of the pandemic. A distraction, if you will.
Writing your own story will help tell your story the way you want it to be told. It will ensure that your values and beliefs are accurately recorded. It will help reserve memories and archive events that were and are important to you and your audience.
A Family Affair
You may even want to consider turning storytelling in to a family activity. Children may not be aware that their stories have meaning. Imagine their delight if you were to explain to them who would love to hear their story and why.
Beginning the Process
The key to exploring personal legacy is to begin to think about the story you want to tell. What will keep you interested and energized? What will contribute to your well-being? what story will make you want to keep going?
The Scope of Your Story
An yet another thing to consider is who you are telling your story to. Who is your intended audience? Will your story be broad or specific? Is there more than one story you want to tell? How will you frame your story? Will you shape your story around a period in your life? Or an individual? Or an event or hobby? Your career? The possibilities are endless. It’s important to remember that this is the story that YOU want to tell. After all, everyone has a story that needs to get told, but what story do you want to be retold and passed down? How do you want to be remembered?
Things to Get You Thinking
What things might family, friends and your children’s children find meaningful, interesting, helpful? Be sure to include dates, full names, and other contextual information. Consider sharing insights, favorite quotes, dreams, successes and failures. Tenacity has enormous value (especially in the pandemic) and is worthy of mentioning here! How did you overcome fear, failure, and disappointment? Listed below are more prompts to get you thinking about the personal story you want to share.
- What are your fondest memories?
- What games and activities did you and your family enjoy?
- Who was your favorite teacher growing up and why?
- Who was your favorite neighbor when you were a child? And why?
- Do you like boats, trains, airplanes, road trips? Describe your first experience and what was your most memorable experience?
- Who cooked your favorite dish when you were a child and what was it? Did you help? What did you do? Would you like to share the recipe?
- Did you ever believe in the tooth fairy? Does a story come to your mind? How old were you when you learned the ‘real story’ about the fairy?
- Did you have a favorite toy? Who gave it to you and why was it your favorite?
- Talk about your favorite pet or animal experience.
- Who taught you to drive? What was the make, model, year, and color of your first car? Do you remember how much it cost? Describe how you got it.
- What has given you the most challenge in your life? What might you have done differently?
How will you tell your personal story? There are countless ways to share your story. How would you like to do this? You can tell your story through:
- Audio or audio-visual recordings and interviews
- Recipes / cookbooks
- And more
No matter how you tell your story, make sure it is in a manner you will enjoy spending time on. This undertaking should not be made more difficult because your chosen deliver method was difficult for you.
For the author, reminiscence helps people sum up their life and put various pieces in order. For the audience, in many ways it can inform and maybe even inspire future generations. Remember, your story has value, not only to you but to those you share it with. Your story deserves to be told.