meeting new people lets us get to reinvent ourselves

this week, i’ve had two or three conversations that have made me want to write this update on my thoughts about the importance of personal storytelling. i can’t remember the third conversation, but the first was with danielle coates-connor (of infinite growth) and the other was with a friend from school, xau ying.

the convo with xau ying was that lately she’s seeing the importance of this, too. in fact, she just participated in a workshop on personal narrative that someone from nyc came down to lead. i need to follow up and find out who that person is!

the things dcc and i discussed are all things i’ve thought about before (and that topic is a big chunk of the communication part of the first book i’m writing) and they’re complex, but they boil down to this basic idea: working with groups of people you don’t know lets you be freer because you get to present yourself however you want, unconstrained by what they know about you (because they don’t know much or anything about you). this doesn’t mean you can lie, but it does mean you can chose how you want to present the details of your life.

the moment of first telling someone your story is actually a very powerful moment. holding that power in those moments is an important facet of life that i think many of us currently underestimate and under utilize. there are moments in life where we get the opportunity to do this rethinking (moving to a new place, starting a new job, starting a new school, working with a new group of people as described above).

at a celebration just yesterday, jim moffet reminded us of something that came up during some project work back in january: the process of mapping a network actually builds the network. the process of asking people who is in their network crystallizes their thinking about those networks. this then impacts how they think, and ultimately act, about their own network. (i think huma might have been the first one to bring that up, but i can’t remember…)

i think there is a identical parallel here to personal narratives. every time we met someone new and tell them our story, we get to deeper or shift our understanding of ourselves. i’m beginning to think that if people can get better and more strategic about using these opportunities to shape their understanding of themselves, the world would get a lot better. if you’re trying to be a functioning, effective part of a community (which is something i think we all should be aspiring towards), it’s hard to do that without understanding yourself well. it’s tough to put your puzzle piece into a puzzle if you don’t know what your piece looks like.

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