As a storyteller, I have found that storytelling is more about connecting than actually telling stories. If you're telling your own story, you're narrating with the intention of placing your audience in your shoes. If you're telling someone else's story, you're telling it from the perspective of being in that person's shoes. And when you're listening to a story, you're never in your own shoes. The art of walking in another's shoes or allowing someone to walk in yours requires vulnerability, empathy, understanding, compassion. To wade through our deepest and darkest stories, together, takes courage. It is within this path of vulnerability that we are able to connect on an ultimate level and it is within that togetherness that we can truly seed change. It's a simple trajectory really: vulnerability = courage = togetherness = impact. However, it took me years to understand this formula.
Now, as I drift into a new unknowing, a new career, I can't help but to reflect on the journey of this calling: a storyteller. The truth is, I was scared of my past and shuddered at my scars. I struggled for nearly six years to truly own my story, rich with heartache, shame and guilt. I burrowed into a routine of staying busy enough so that the reality of my emotions (fear and pain) would never find me. Being vulnerable was my emotional straightjacket. Sure I looked strong on the outside, but in reality I was trembling on the inside.
It was only within the past two to three years that I was been able to own my story through surrendering to vulnerability. I focused less on being strong on the outside and instead focused on finding my strength from the inside. I moved away, literally across the world...twice. And it was in that space of "away" that I was able to move inward to be with myself. Practicing self-love allowed me to embrace my vulnerability. By doing so, I was able to face greater moments of risk, such as traveling the world to tell other people's heartbreaking stories, or even taking the stage to tell my own.
And now, my most recent leap: becoming a keynote speaker for CAMPUSPEAK. I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared; scared of the pain I may feel or the pain others may feel when we're walking in each other's shoes. But at the end of the day, I know that it is within this realm of vulnerability that we find our greatest clarity, our deepest purpose, and our courage to live meaningful lives that aim make a difference.