By Emily Gehman
Sharing your story takes guts.
It takes commitment. It takes courage. It’s high-risk and high-reward.
It’s like the moment you get strapped into a roller coaster. The worker checks your harness and holds his thumbs up for the operator to hit the green button. Meanwhile, you’re dangling several stories above the Earth, held in by a few pieces of manmade metal, rubber and some plastic. The platform drops from below your feet while the train leaves the loading area, and there’s pretty much nothing you can do about it. You feel the weight of your body slide back into the seat as it starts click-click-clicking up the track to the first big drop. You’re committed. You’re in for the ride.
This could either go really well, and you could have the time of your life, or this could be really bad, and you end up distributing the remnants of your lunch upon whatever unfortunate creature wanders below.
High risk. High reward.
Sharing your story is kind of like that. It takes guts, commitment and vulnerability. It’s high-risk.
The moment you unequivocally feel that risk is like that click-click-clicking up to that big first drop. You’re in, but you’re not sure if this was a good idea or not.
It happens when you share something personal. It feels like the floor is dropping from underneath you, leaving you dangling there, exposed, ready to be either fiercely loved or devastatingly rejected. There seems to be no in-between, and you feel like you might lose your lunch — and not in the I-misplaced-it kind of way.
And it’s not unwarranted. You could totally be shot down. Your flaws are exposed, and those could be capitalized on and used against you. You might be completely rejected and receive backlash you aren’t prepared for.
Or you could be overwhelmingly supported. Your story could shed some hope on someone else for their story. You might even find a community that will rise up and fight for your story and for you. More often than not, you find connection instead of rejection.
And for all the tension and fear that being vulnerable in front of someone else elicits — that high risk — the moment when you really, truly and authentically connect with another person through your story is all worth it. That’s the high reward.
Because when you courageously take that first step toward vulnerability and you share your story, you begin breaking down barriers — barriers only penetrable by stories and authenticity.
Stories are a mediator of truth and honesty between people. Stories demolish stereotypes and misunderstandings. Stories show each other we really have more in common than we first thought.
Stories are an act of peace, but that means there is potential for plenty of conflict — even war. Being a Story Warrior means you go headfirst into conflict, armed with the power of storytelling, the grace of honesty, and the courage of vulnerability.
It takes guts. It takes commitment. It takes you.