When you choose vulnerability and honesty as you tell your story, you make it possible for all of us to feel inspired and free.
Say who you are, really say it in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won’t be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can’t help but be that. But more importantly, if you’re honest about who you are, you’ll help that person be less lonely in their world because that person will recognise him or herself in you and that will give them hope.Charlie Kaufman
Learning to Tell Your Story: Insights from My Journey
The event organizer signaled to everyone that we were getting started. She began by introducing me.
“Susie is someone who walks her talk. What she advises in her writing and coaching, she lives. Right now, she is traveling for four months throughout Europe, taking entrepreneurs on business-changing adventures of all kinds. I’ve never known anyone to advocate for the power of play, fun, and joy as much as she does and how embracing all of that is the key to success. She has taught me that tapping into one’s innate creativity is the surprising path to what we crave.”
I swallowed hard and blinked away any chance of tears. Moved and honored by her words, I felt the still-new sweetness of being seen cloak me in connection, calm. I took a few seconds to silently acknowledge to myself the distance I had traveled from hiding my vulnerable truth to sharing it with the world.
Hiding out had come naturally to me. As a Perfectionist clinging to the notion that I should strive for lofty standards regardless of how impossible or unreachable that was, I had spent a lot of energy not showing what I perceived to be my flaws.
I didn’t want to reveal to anyone (or acknowledge even to myself) when or where I had failed, made a bad decision, or was lost. I feared doing so would place a dangerous chink in my armor. Somehow erode my reputation as a leader and an entrepreneur.
The ever-present worry that I would be judged harshly was exhausting and very lonely.
Writing My Book
When I began writing BUOYANT, I maintained a careful distance and crafted a sterilized version of my story. At each opportunity to choose perceived safety or brutal honesty, I chose safety. When I was about three chapters into writing my first draft, I had a sickening realization I had to start over.
If my book was going to be what I longed for it to be—a crash cart for readers who were in dire need of the equivalent of defibrillator paddles placed onto their hearts, souls, and minds—I was going to have to fess up, warts and all. I would have to surrender and tell the truth. All of it.
I would have to step away from the lectern of lofty advice, and instead sit on the floor in the middle of the circle and share what I didn’t dare.
I paced endless trails in the woods, speaking to the pines and oaks and asking for courage. Bravery never arrived. But a willingness to write from the absolute center of my truth did. And over time, I got better at writing through my bouts of gripping anxiety.
Weeks before the release of my book, I began to worry all over again. Soon, the story—my story—would be out. Known. In print. I was excited, relieved, and horrified.
I braced myself.
Seeing and Being Seen
After the book had been out for a week or so, readers began contacting me. They shared how much BUOYANT had meant to them. How it had been a lifeline. How they had shared it with their children, neighbors, and colleagues.
They pointed out how they were finding the willingness to make changes in their lives, no matter how scary that was. They felt liberated, inspired, and joyful. Seen.
I was delighted and relieved. Moved. I still waited for the negative feedback from my writing about the “dark side” of my truth to arrive. It never did.
How Can You Tell Your Story?
Honesty helps my readers to feel less lonely and inspires them to feel free to be their true selves. By revealing my authentic self, I could deliver on my book’s promise.
You, too, can tell your story in full. No one cares about the times we got it wrong, our perceived flaws, and/or our lapses in judgment. What they do care about is our sharing our unguarded, unvarnished truth. That is, saying who we really are.
We connect with the powerful resonance we desire when we let people in. When we reveal our depths with honesty—when you truly tell your story!—we can be seen and others can see themselves in us and our stories. In us and those who dream to reach, these threads of raw visibility weave life-changing fabrics of faith, trust, and hope.