For as long as I can remember, I was always in awe of the beauty of a story. I grew up reading stories, immersing myself in other worlds, experiences and lives. We are told stories from the moment we are born. Stories have been passed down generations, through song, dance, writing and oral tradition. They can pull you away to a mystical land far away, or offer a new perspective on reality. While there are storytellers, artists, marketers and others who create these narratives, stories are ubiquitous. Stories are everywhere waiting to be discovered.
There is no denying that the power of a story lies in how it makes you feel and what it makes you think. They can help us grow and offer perspective when we face challenges. Kazuo Ishiguro once said, “stories are about one person saying to another: This is the way it feels to me. Can you understand what I’m saying? Does it feel this way to you?” This quote shows how stories help us connect with each other and develop our thoughts and feelings.
We live our own stories every day. Our clothes, our friends, our values, and the way we express ourselves all create a narrative about who we are. They can help us understand ourselves. When I look at stories, I can find parts of myself in characters and relate to them. I can also look at characters completely different from myself and try to understand them. I would analyze their actions to understand why I may or may not agree with their choices, because attempting to understand others led to deeper recognition of myself. People and their stories can inspire me to pursue hobbies or goals I am passionate about. Their aims and struggles can push me to support things I care about. Through inspiration, stories can contribute to the story I am developing about myself.
They can give strength in trying times. Stories can remind us that we are not alone in the difficulties we face and that someone, somewhere else has gone through something similar. Sometimes, just hearing that others have faced challenges that we have faced and overcome them can be enough to keep us going. Other times, we can draw on the methods and thoughts of those who face a problem much like ours and use them as examples of strength, generosity and courage.
For me, one of the greatest things about stories is their ability to connect us. When they inspire us, offer an escape, shine new light on existing problems and remind us that we are not alone, they connect us to each other. I find that stories help build empathy and make me less quick to judge. Every person has their own story. Stories help make me a better friend, daughter, sister, and person. Taking the time to listen to and understand stories can get us in deeper touch with ourselves and others, and for me, that is one of the most beautiful things a story can do.
HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: REBECCA PLOTNICK PHOTOGRAPHY