The Power of a Story (And What Happened When I Shared Mine)
Some people love sharing their stories.
Others shy away from it.
I’m here to say that you shouldn’t shy away.
Because your story has great power.
And you never know who might be listening.
Or who might be watching the example you set.
Here’s what I’ve learned about sharing my story.
And the lessons I’m about to share can be applied to anyone’s life.
This is the power of a story.
Why I Share My Story
I tweet every day about mental health. Many of your probably found me on Twitter, tweeting along in the Twitterverse.
Frequently, I’ll share about my own experience. I do this because I know my own experience can allow others to see new angles of their own. My experience can be a mirror that reflects back a new perspective for others. You can do this as well.
So when I tweet about anxiety, I often get responses about the anxiety that others have experienced. And when I tweet about trauma, I often get responses about how others have made it through their most difficult moments.
One comment begets another. A force produces an equal and opposite force.
But this is just social media, you might be thinking. And you’d be right — what I share on social media can only do so much.
But what happens when social media turns into something else?
It’s happened to me.
Lessons From Sharing One Particular Story
Another time, several years ago, I posted on Facebook a long story about one of my experiences battling mental health issues. I had gotten to a point in my life in which I wanted to share with others. But, still, I was hesitant. Still, I felt I had shared too much.
That is, until I got a response in a Facebook message from an acquaintance of mine at the time. He had just read my story.
I was surprised to see a message in my inbox from someone I didn’t know very well. But then I read what he had to say. He was somewhat veiled in the way he described it, but he talked about how he had also experienced some mental health issues. He asked if I would meet up the following day.
When we got together, I was unsure of his motive. I thanked him for complimenting me on the story I shared on Facebook. I talked a little more about my own mental health journey.
He looked nervous, but this was what he needed to start talking.
And so he talked about panic attacks. He talked about when they first started for him. He talked about his own extreme anxiety. I was shocked to learn that he hadn’t even shared this information with his closest friend. He felt that he couldn’t. He felt that there was something inside of him that wouldn’t let him. I knew that this was likely true, but that there are also immense societal pressures that keep people from sharing about their mental health.
As we continued to walk, it was if he started to deflate. The pressure that had built up inside of him from years of not sharing his truth began to release. The decrease in tension was acutely apparent. A smile appeared on his face.
And soon he started to talk about something else. He talked about how he had a dream of starting a nonprofit to raise awareness for anxiety, to support others who experience what he had.
I supported him wholeheartedly. I told him to just go for it.
The very next day, he got to work. Within months, he had official nonprofit status. Within the year, he was raising money to fund youth needing to see therapists for mental health concerns.
His work continues today, years later.
Now, I don’t even want to begin to take credit for something so crucial to my now-friend’s community. All I did was show up and listen — and then provide words of encouragement.
I was a co-founder of the nonprofit for a time, but my friend did all the hard work.
Still, there is a part of me that wonders what would have happened had he not read my story on Facebook. Would he have gotten started as quickly as he did? Would he have gotten started at all?
I’m glad that his story and my own intertwined.
Carry This Story With You
I share this with you because there is great power in your story, in sharing your truth. You may think it’s hopeless. You may fear you’ve shared too much.
But it’s when you share too much that you give others permission to come forward.
There is tremendous power in that.
You can change the world simply by being who you are.