The Worth of Storytelling

I’ve never considered myself good at telling a story or being able to deliver an elaborate joke that ends up at a ridiculous groan-worthy punchline. When there is a room of people whose eyes are on me, I frequently clam up and fail to find the right words or style to keep attention and interest in the story. But there’s something else that’s hindering me before I even begin.

I don’t believe my stories have any inherent worth.

I’m not sure when, but in the past, I told myself nobody wanted to hear from me, from the real me. Or perhaps more pointedly, most people didn’t want to hear about me. The story of my life is so unique and specific to my experience that I have very often found it difficult to find the right words. Rarely have I met people who share the crossover of family dynamics, sibling relationships, education, and personal interests. Who would understand me? Who would get me at all? So I choose to stay mostly silent. I even have some personal writings from my high school & college days that reference this same sentiment. I’ve long believed my story is not relatable. I guess some things don’t change with time.  

I am comfortable in being a supporting voice & role, sometimes to a fault and the detriment of my needs. I’m more comfortable reacting to what I hear than being what is reacted to. I give the voice of others more weight than my own. What they need to share is more important than what I do.

I’m a better listener than a storyteller. At least that’s the story I’m telling myself.

So what’s been holding me back? I’m afraid that when I do share about me, nobody will want to listen to what I say. What if I speak into the ether, and my words fall flat? What if I bare my soul, and someone makes my story about their story in 3 moves or less? What if they simply don’t care?

The thing is all that doesn’t matter, right? There is a part of all of our lives that will, not just can, speak to someone. I am often scared to open up for fear of not making a connection, which I have associated with rejection.

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” – Ernest Hemingway

While my writing does connect to private parts of my life, whether or not I’ve publicly written or talked much about what hurts in an open and honest way is a wholly different conversation. I want to keep working towards honest writing, even when it may hurt to put those words and stories out there. I know it won’t be easy, and I won’t post that often with that level of depth, but it’s something to work on this summer.

All stories have worth. Maybe writing more of them down will show me that mine does too.

  • Stacy Ashworth

    I really appreciated this post, Greg. Even though I’m very comfortable with public speaking, in day to day life, I am much more comfortable listening to others than talking myself. I never thought about it until now, but maybe that is why I’ve always gravitated to writing. Writing is more subtle and less intrusive than talking (it feels that way for me, anyways) and allows people the choice if they actually want to read what I’ve written or give it a pass. I also wanted to share that your line “I’m a better listener than a storyteller. At least that’s the story I’m telling myself” is quite poetic. As always, you deliver another well-written, thoughtful post. So glad to be your reader and friend.

    • Thanks, as always, for reading and replying! I am in the same boat with you that writing is less intrusive from my perspective as well. It also gives me the opportunity to find just the right words to describe what I’m thinking about.