Sometimes people want to know your story, it could be a partner, a friend or an employer. Growing up in New York, I learned at an early age that the best answer to this is usually: whatareya writing a book?
But sometimes that may not be in your best interest. As anyone who goes into therapy discovers, questions are asked about your story not to find out who you are, but to find out who you think you are. This is a good time to be as honest as possible since you’re paying them, but spilling your guts to a complete stranger is not easy.
The thing is, our stories are fragments of memory and imagination, they are only as real as the ones in the book on our nightstand, and still we sometimes hesitate to tell them. Depending on who’s asking, we may skip over some parts and even leave whole chapters out completely.
In Notes from Underground, Fyodor Dostoevsky writes a rambling memoir of a bitter, isolated man, which is depressing and at times funny, sublime and yet ridiculous. He writes:
“Every man has some reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has others which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret.
But finally there are still others which a man is even afraid to tell himself, and every decent man has a considerable number of such things stored away. That is, one can even say that the more decent he is, the greater the number of such things in his mind.”
OK, that is a bit depressing, how about this one by Ken Kesey: “To hell with facts! We need stories!” Let’s go with that.