Authentic stories are memorable, inspiring and experiential. They take us on a journey of self-reflection and foster connections to enable learning and giving. Stories are made up of moments big and small. With every interaction that we have, every email or text message exchange, every behaviour we demonstrate, we are adding to our story. Since you are the author of your life story, would you like to be more intentional about the content? A year from now, when you think back to the present moment, what would you like to recall? How would you like to feel? What do you want your legacy to be? I decided to tackle this by asking myself the following 3 questions:
1. What is the story that I’m writing? 2. What is the story that I’m telling myself? 3. How can I positively contribute to others’ story?
What is the story that I’m writing? I came across the poem, “We are not in the same boat” (https://institute.mercy.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/We-are-not-in-the-same-boat_-A-poem-about-COVID-19.pdf ) and the following quote by Damien Barr left a lasting impression on me –
“We are not all in the same ‘boat’. We are in the same ‘storm’.
Some have yachts, some have canoes and some are drowning.
Just be kind and help when you can.”
The pandemic has impacted us in different ways. Exponential rise in hate crimes and anti-racist sentiments have been disturbing, agonizing and heartbreaking. Research indicates that there has been disproportionate impact on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour), women, people with disabilities and those from vulnerable sectors of the society. While 39% of the workforce is female, 54% of the job losses have affected women (McKinsey & Company, 2020). Mothers are 3 times more likely as fathers to be responsible for most of their family’s housework and childcare during the pandemic (LeanIn, 2020). One in four women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce due to Covid-19. Those that are fortunate to remain employed, may have had to reduce working time or in some cases extend their hours to support themselves and dependents.
As I reflect upon my ‘boat’, I feel a combination of feelings – the strongest emotion being gratitude. While I face challenges, I am also privileged to enjoy certain advantages. While the circumstances that unfold around us may not be in our control, we can be intentional about how we react and respond in those situations. I strive to make simple actions part of my story such as being my authentic self, building connection, volunteering, mentoring and paying it forward through community involvement. Knowing that my attitude and behaviours shape my story, I bring enthusiasm, compassion and dedication to everything that I participate in. To me this is about living with intention.
Here is another thought- what about the stories that we are not writing and are missing out on? Many of us are our worst critic. We hesitate to dream. We hesitate to take that first step, we talk ourselves out of trying something new and in turn stop ourselves from writing many positive stories. Breaking down a big scary goal into small digestible chunks gives me the motivation to take the first step. Visualizing what the end could look like, encourages me to give something new a chance. Having a self affirming internal mantra gives me the boost of confidence when I’m experiencing self-doubt. Taking the time to understand the impact of actions, helps me to change a course of action if needed. Aha, so it is also about what is the story I am telling myself?
Reka and I connected one summer afternoon in 2020. For several years, we had been exploring ideas for offering meaningful and thought-provoking sessions to women from different walks of life. I had hesitated many times thinking about “what if” scenarios that wouldn’t work, until it dawned on me that the story that I was ‘telling’ myself hadn’t happened. It was in my head, holding me back. I made a conscious decision to reframe what I told myself to move forward. Shortly afterwards, Reka and I co-founded SheRocks!, a social enterprise committed to helping women reach their full potential.
Making a meaningful contribution to the community leads me to my next question - How can I positively contribute to others’ stories? Reflecting on this question has helped me to reconnect with my values and make time for what matters. I pledge to stand up against hateful beliefs, intolerance and oppression. When I don’t have the answer, I offer to figure things out together. With kindness, I acknowledge and share that its ok to not be ok. With commitment to social responsibility, I am honoured to be invited to speak at conferences, lead sessions and facilitate discussions.
We are in different ‘boats’ and we all have a story. Take the time to acknowledge and share your story. Make the time to listen to that of others.