“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
Who are you building out of the story in your head? At any given moment is your story’s narrator heroic or cowardly, passionate or apathetic, empathetic or callous, self-observant or unaware, introverted or extroverted, spiritual or secular, hard-working or lazy, moderate or extreme, careful or careless? How does the story of the moment, the current plot line, fit into the overall story that you have imagined, that story that is the basis of your hopes and dreams?
As storytellers and as fans of storytelling, you understand that a story is ultimately a contradiction. So when we step away from the character story that we have created for ourselves, or when our actions are in contradiction to our sense of self, we create a conflict. As we seek for a way to resolve this conflict we are faced with a choice, are we going to stay true to our original character story or are we going to create a new model and a new character arc?
Most of us are more comfortable staying on our current trajectory, no matter how painful it is, because it is the story that we know. Moving away from that story, changing our lives, is not only uncomfortable but even frightening at times. It takes courage to change our plot line when necessary.
We are drawn to the stories created by others in part because it offers us a safe way to try on a new story. When we get the opportunity to step into another’s head, through literature or oral stories, we are temporarily given the chance to audition new emotions, new thought processes, new objectives. As we try them on and look in the mirror, we can decide if it is a good fit, or if it looks better on someone else. Will this new look be appropriate for the settings I will be in? Will it be too casual, too formal, too sporty, too young, too old, or too uncomfortable for my lifestyle? What will I have to change about my circumstances in order to incorporate this new look? Is it worth the price I will have to pay? Of course, not all stories will affect us in this way, but when we come across one special story that does, we can’t seem to let it go.
So the important thing here is to listen, really listen, to the stories that you are telling yourself, to the stories you are telling others, and to the stories that you surround yourself with. Who are you building from those stories inside your head? Who do you want to create? How can you help others find their authentic stories? Ultimately, the world of the storyteller is an altruistic one. We seek to build a better story in ourselves and in those who are willing to really listen.