Identity: Allergies and Storytelling

by bxrtley

Within two weeks I’ve met two storytellers. They’re full-time raconteurs who teach, coach and consult individuals, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies for a living. This week, my beloved allergies allowed me to meet the second one. We started talking about our allergic woes and he was giving me all the knowledge on what I already knew. I almost finished his sentences at one point. Sometimes, I just grateful affirmed his suggestions because, I knew these tips but didn’t take heed to them (i.e., drinking much more water, cleaning eyeglasses).

But then he asked me what I did. And I told him the part of my work that was most lucrative—helping small businesses develop brands for future content, marketing, PR or promotional campaigns. A narrative brand developer. I then started ranting about successful brands and the power of storytelling. He seemed really engaged, and even asked questions as if this was entirely new territory for him. At this point I had no idea what he did for a living, so I eventually got around to asking him.

“I’m a storyteller,” he said. Simple. Concise. Humble. For not only was he a storyteller, but he did workshops for Fortune 500 companies, taught at NYU and sold out classes in Brooklyn and Manhattan. This guy was who I wanted to be 5 years from now. Heck, he’s who I look forward to being right now!

Just as I obliged him in his helpful suggestions on how to manage my allergies, he obliged me in my spiel on the power of stories. He wasn’t just scrubbing by off of it either. It was his full-time profession. I gave him the best part of myself in a decade’s time, but he gave me the honest part of himself right now.

In hindsight, it might’ve been easier to tell him about what I was really doing. And I eventually did. I got around to talking about the Antihero project and my goal to use “storytelling” to combat homelessness by addressing the shaming dynamic behind it—starting with the DHS shelter system. And what do you know, he has some political connections that may prove useful later down the line.

Just be yourself. Accept where you are. No fluff. No future aspirations cloaked in the present tense. Just be you. And appropriately share that with others. Don’t feel pressured to answering a question if you don’t want to. It’s not an interview, but your life.

[This just might be worth reposting on the antihero site. I’m becoming convinced of this blog not tainting the “purity” of the site. It might prove more useful. ]