In every single one of my writing and creativity workshops, I tell participants the importance of sharing their stories–even the scary and vulnerable pieces of their stories that convey where they’ve been in their lives and what they’ve overcome or championed.
These moments of breaking and overcoming have been absolutely vital in the formulation of who you now are and what you’re doing to serve the world. Your struggles, hardships and mistakes are actually the most organic, humane resume that you can possibly share with other human beings.
Suffice it to say, this advice causes many workshop attendees to slow down to a halt.
The idea of sharing our hardships, failures, mistakes and struggles naturally causes a lot of resistance. We don’t want to share those pieces of our story. Who would? It means that we’re human, we’re imperfect, we have faults and flaws, we’ve messed up in the past and we’re actually still trying to “figure life out.”
Who would hire someone for those reasons? Wouldn’t people just run the other way?
And in these moments of vulnerable hesitation, I hear attendees say things like…
- Sharing my obstacles, struggles or “overcoming moments” feels like a gross attempt at attention
- Sharing my story feels like “moping” or being “woe is me”
- Other people have dealt with worse, surely, so why should I bother discussing my own struggles?
- Being honest and vulnerable feels unprofessional and people won’t respect it
- Sharing vulnerable pieces of your story will repulse potential clients/customers; it makes you weak in the eyes of others
- What I’ve overcome has no impact, influence or effect in my work or what I want to do with my life
The very idea of sharing those “scary-vulnerable” pieces of your story can bring out a lot of questions, doubts and shame-based dialogue.
But rather than trying to convince you of why you ought to do something that tends to feel backwards and counter-intuitive, I want to share a short story about what positive, quietly-life-changing, subtly-world-shifting effects can be seen from sharing the scary-vulnerable parts of your story.
That is the story of Amy and me.
Amy and Me: A Story
Three years ago, I shared a blog post called Depression and Me here on my blog.
No one knew that I had a history of depression, or sought out a doctor’s help two years before that.
It was my secret. And in many ways, my shame. My fear. My weakness. My imperfection. My flaw.
I felt compelled to share my history with depression three years ago not because I felt like I needed to “confess my sins” but because I wanted to step into my truth. If I struggled with depression, then, hell, that’s just as much a part of what it means to be “Unapologetically Me” as being a writer, or having a dream to publish a book, or any other proud moment of my past.
More and more, I also wanted to offer my depression story as a real example for others who might have been struggling with depression, too.
A few months after I published that blog post, I received an email from someone named Amy. Amy told me that her boyfriend had sent her a link to my blog post, Depression and Me, and Amy shared that she too had a history of depression, O.C.D., anxiety and was actually a near-suicide victim.
The story that she shared with me in that short email was tragic–I felt for her–and inspiring–I felt through her.
Amy reciprocated my story of depression with a story of her own. In this simple email exchange, and without ever having met face-to-face before, we had seen in one another a shared experience: the struggle, the weight, the darkness, and fighting through to rise high above it.
Seeing ourselves in one another, a bond was formed.
Even though I was still just a young blogger and aspiring author at the time, I went on to coach Amy at-cost and help her build a blog platform that she was developing.
And we’ve been friends ever since.
Amy was intent back then on finding a way to help young women and girls who were like her, struggling with depression and anxiety and felt like they had no place to turn. Part of what helped Amy find her salvation from depression was exercise, health and nutrition. She had become a personal trainer and was using her blog platform, Strong Inside Out, to use fitness and exercise to help people rise high above their struggles with depression.
Today, Amy Clover is a fitness coach, personal trainer and philanthropist who travels the country leading amazing boot-camps and workshops to help people utilize fitness and exercise as daily practices in nurturing inner strength, peace of mind and happiness.
Amy is on a mission to give hope to those who are struggling like she once did.
But if she didn’t share her story, her mission today wouldn’t exist.
If she didn’t share her story with me, our friendship wouldn’t exist.
If I didn’t share my story of depression on my blog three years ago, who knows, maybe I wouldn’t even be teaching people the importance of sharing their story. Maybe this blog post wouldn’t exist. And my workshops wouldn’t exist.
The simple story of my friendship with Amy probably does more to share how important it is to stand up, stand tall, own your story and find the confidence to share those scary-vulnerable pieces of it than me trying to convince you in some other way.
To start, you step into your truth. You become more “Unapologetically You.”
You quell the shame-voice that tells you that you’re only human, and an imperfect one at that.
You tell your fear-mind that it’s okay that you have faults and flaws, because every human being has messed up in the past. You admit, it’s perfectly fine to still be “trying to figure life out,” because the same can be said for any and every human being who has ever existed–and will ever exist.
And when you share the scary-vulnerable pieces of story with others, you may yet find that your story of imperfection and struggle and overcoming is itself the most humane form of service, giving, leadership and kindness that you can share with the world.
Why? Because it’s so real. So human. And so honest.
Meanwhile, you can get involved with Amy’s amazing campaign and help her empower those who struggle to rediscover their strength through fitness.
Amy is currently fundraising to put on the second year of her amazing Strong Inside Out Tour, over which she’ll be teaching fitness classes to empower people out of any kind of struggle in major cities across the United States.
By taking participants through the experience of fighting through a tough workout while incorporating strength-inspiring mantras, Amy believes that the strength they find in class will lead to a more resilient mindset in everyday life.
Amy’s also giving 50% of all proceeds to suicide prevention charity To Write Love On Her Arms.
I invite you to consider supporting my friend Amy’s crowd-funding campaign and incredible mission. Let’s make the world a better, stronger place–whether through story, through fitness, or through being more “Unapologetically You.”