A story is more than just its story. It also has a truth, rooted deep within its pages, and it’s this deeper meaning which really connects with the reader.
Yes, you can tell people about your story; the things that have happened in your life, who you have met and the places you have been, but what is your story’s truth?
When I start reading a book, even if I struggle to get into it, I don’t like to give up on it. What if it actually gets better or it turns out to be one of my favourite books if I just gave it a chance? Sometimes they don’t get better. I sit there frustrated, skimming over the words, thinking how I’ve wasted hours of my life, and start to question if I actually enjoy reading as much as I thought I did. But my time is never completely wasted because by persevering, even if I didn’t like the book, I usually take something away from it. Maybe it taught me something; its content was able to spark a conversation, or a quote resonated with me and gave me hope. On some occasions it’s just the fact that I didn’t give up on it. I wasn’t left wondering if the story ever got better…
Just like with books, you aren’t going to be liked by everybody. Although you might not end up staying on everybody’s bookshelf, the truth of your story still can. Maybe you feel as though your story isn’t very exciting. You haven’t been on any great adventures, you haven’t achieved the milestones that society has expected of you by now, or your story seems to weigh heavy with too much hopelessness and heartbreak. But it isn’t only the events in stories which are important…
Do you realise the importance of your impact? Those few words of encouragement when someone really needed it. That small act of kindness that made someone’s bad day more bearable. That hug, or just that smile, dispersing love and kindness. You bring people joy daily, just by being you.
Being you is your truth, and the truth of our stories are our gifts to share with others – to bring them light when the world seems to be nothing but darkness. However, we can sometimes look towards the wrong kind of light, leaving us blinded and unable to recognise how significant our gifts really are. Our gifts haven’t got to be anything extravagant or to be an amazing talent. They don’t need to be shining under a spotlight in order for them to be a gift.
Once our presents have been unwrapped, we are left with the wrapping paper – the rubbish. We just reuse it or throw it away. But with our actual gifts, the rubbish seems to be coated in comparison, and it doesn’t seem so easy to dispose of.
Is it not the gifts that are the most popular or expensive, but those that are the most thoughtful; that make us smile and warm our hearts that have the most significance? Having said that, an expensive present can still be a heart-warming gift, but it all depends on the intention behind it…
Focus. It is easy to find ourselves focusing on the negatives right now, but when we do, we lose sight of the bigger picture. If you were to take a photo, focusing your camera on one particular object, the rest of the photo will become blurry. This is also what happens when our focus is self-centred around our fears and anxieties. We lose sight of what is important, who we really are and what our truth really is.
It can be hard to admit when we are wrong, or maybe we don’t think we have bad intentions. I thought that the intentions behind my goals were good ones until I took a closer look and realised that under the layer of wanting to make people proud, or to prove that I wasn’t a failure – things that I thought weren’t selfish because they were for other people – I realised that they were still actually for the approval of others, which ultimately came back to myself. If our main intention is for the approval of others, when we don’t achieve this, we can then feel like an even bigger failure. Whilst pressure can strengthen us, it can be quite damaging too.
So instead of focusing on what is wrong, maybe we try to crop out our anxieties altogether. But by doing this, we then end up accidentally cropping other things out of the picture too. We can’t just cut out our fears and insecurities from the photo. We have to include them in it. We have to include what we might call ‘flaws’ because that is actually what makes the photo more beautiful and unique. Our weaknesses can be turned into our strengths; becoming our gift that we can bring to others – if we believe in ourselves.
It is when we fix our eyes on the bigger picture, on good intentions and what really matters, that then things start falling into place. It doesn’t suddenly become easy because life isn’t easy. By helping others, we often help ourselves too, yet it is hard to find that balance between putting others before ourselves but not neglecting our own needs. I think by taking a look at our intentions (why am I really doing this? Is it because I want to or because I feel like I have to? Is it really to help, or is it to procrastinate from what I should be doing? Is it because I might get something out of it, or because it will make me look good?) it can help us find more stability.
Our gifts can bring so much more to not only others but also to ourselves when we give them with loving intentions. What can the truth of your story bring to people? Even if it doesn’t seem like a good story, or even if you don’t like your story, what can someone learn from you? What can you do to make someone feel loved or so they experience that sense of hope or joy?
Test your intentions and focus your eyes on the good – then your gifts will bring you what you wanted, if it was what you needed. If you didn’t need what you wanted, then that wasn’t part of your story or the character you were made to be. When you change yourself or try to mould yourself into something else, you’re depriving the world of you. Your truth. Your gifts. You.
Be proud that even though every chapter of your book might not look as though it could compare to one from a bestseller, what you bring to this world is far too important to be measured in popularity or prizes. Just by being you, you are already greater than any limited edition, classic or collectable.
So, go and sign the first page of your book. As the ink of the marker seeps into the paper, allow yourself to accept what your story has already been and trust what it is going to become. You can’t go back and change it. By ripping out pages, you will only cause other pages to then fall out later on in the book. Know that the sleeve of your front cover will change. For your story to be lived, it cannot stay perfect. But if you do try to change your cover to make it perfect, it will never change the truth of your story; what makes you, you.