I found Chimamanda Adichie’s “The danger of a single story” from Ted Talks very illuminating and provocative.
I think it is quite common for people to have a single story for a population or a country. When I listened to Chimamanada talk about her life and the plight of the single story, it made me think about my own story. To me, although I have varied identities and roles, my life is comprised of one story.
It is rich and long. Complicated and boring.
For me, my life has been one long story, but to communicate to others it would take many, many stories to impart the different people I have been, the successes and failures I have had, the places I have traveled, the places I think I will go.
All this made me think of a post I wrote this month for a feature called, “If I Could Turn Back Time,” where I was asked to write a letter to my 18 year old self. I thought of the many stories I should tell my 18 year old self, the dangers to look out for, the naughty boys to avoid. But, then I realized that I was a compilation of these stories, these experiences. If anything changed I would not be who I am now.
So, I am a single story in a way. But, to get the whole picture you have to make sure you listen to all the parts. It is a single story of a single person, but there are many chapters.
People who only read the first chapter of anyone’s story are not going to get the whole picture. You have to finish book.
Below is a copy of the post I wrote to my 18 year old self:
– Wear. Your. Retainer.
– Don’t ever dance on a table. Ever. Please.
– Only eat 1 cheeseburger a month. Max.
I would like to tell you many other things to do, avoid, and remember.
But, to be honest, I like who I am now.
If I tell you to avoid all the heartbreak, trauma, tragedy, terrible jobs, and all the other horrible mistakes and incidents, then I wouldn’t be who I am now.
So, this letter is to tell you to be strong and endure. All the awful things to come are taking you somewhere.
A place where you are a good person. Where you have traveled to foreign lands and had many exciting adventures. Where you have amazing friends, wonderful children, a loving husband and family, and a promising future.
This letter is also to say “I’m sorry.”
I am sorry that I made some terrible and ill-informed choices. I am sorry for all the tears you will cry, pain you will feel, and darkness that will fill your life for a short time. I am sorry that I didn’t take better care of you and I didn’t realize how much you are worth.
From this adversity will rise a strong and confident woman.
A good mother and wife, a wonderful friend, a devoted sister and loving daughter. People will love you for who you are, not who you think you should be. One day you will be yourself and people will love it because you are fabulous.
You just don’t know it yet.
Oh, I will tell you one thing. When a boy asks you to move to another country to marry him. Please buy a return ticket, just in case.
What is your story? Do you have more than one? What are some of the stories you think people have about you?