“You are not your story”, I’ve heard this said many times.
While I understand that we hold within us the power to decide that we will no longer react in certain ways to the hands we are dealt, or the complexities that life will inevitably throw at us; simultaneously, I understand that this does not erase our stories, it simply gives us new perspective on them.
And so, what are we if not our stories?
To experience is a fact of life and the essence of our being, it is our very experience that weaves the fabric of who we are, what we do, and how we evolve. From the time of conception, we begin interacting with the world around us. From the time of conception, we evolve based on our experience; based on our story, as it’s written.
As I lay quietly this afternoon, I felt into the layers of myself, the shades and every version of me I have been since I was a child. I can feel them all still here, a vital part of my being, though surely much different than the version of me I am as I write this. There the question arose, what am I if not my story? Now, surely, I am a sentient being and even furthermore my belief is that I am a piece of all that is. I am my spirit, my most inner self that transcends time and space and matter. At the same moment, I am an aware, conscious, and experiencing life form and the classroom in which I learn is this life, and my story is the book in which I read and write. It is a compilation of tragedy, love, triumph, beauty, despair, anger, unconditional joy, and grit. Every word holds a story, or multiple stories – all of which have guided me to decisions, to understandings, and to greater purpose.
No one story is without pain, and no one story is without loss. Why do we feel the need to look away? How would it feel to open ourselves to our pain? Perhaps, it would be our greatest point of transcendence; perhaps, it would unlock doors inside of us that led not to the pain we've endured and want so badly to escape, but rather to something entirely new; something powerful, something humble, something wise.
You are your story. You are every layer of yourself, every shade, every version of you that you have been since you were a child – they’re all still there, a vital part of your being. Though perhaps much different than the version of you that you are as you read this, or perhaps not, this is for you to look at and decide.
At a certain point you may even come to realize, that it is you yourself who holds the pen.
And so rather than decide that “you are not your story”, you might choose to embrace it. You might choose to cherish each and every layer, each and every moment, all the pain, all the mistakes, all the joy, all the beauty, as different opportunities for learning, for becoming.
Think about it, you don’t even need to speak it. What has your story taught you, up until this very moment? Can you practice acceptance and compassion, and understand that you have a choice from this moment forward, not to rewrite, but to write differently? Can you accept that what is past cannot change, but that you can?
Embrace your story, let it teach you.
It has so much to offer, if only you will allow yourself to see.