It’s been a good month. One of those months that makes me realise just how much my life has changed since I first tapped out my thoughts and launched them into cyberspace, nearly three years ago.
Here’s some highlights:
- I gave a very well received talk at a suicide prevention event that was attended by around 100 people
- I had a meeting with my publisher and am now working on a couple of exciting new projects
- I was invited to speak to a group of teenage boys about mental health at a local youth centre
- I’ve been working on a mental health in boxing workshop that I’m excited to be launching very soon
- I have been asked to appear on BBC Radio London a couple of times to discuss modern relationship issues
- I appeared alongside actress Glenn Close in a video for the wonderful Time To Change Global campaign, to reduce stigma around mental health
It feels good to know that I have managed to create these opportunities, to make a difference doing something that I’m passionate about. Makes me feel pretty proud of myself even.
Yeah but Matthew, you don’t need to bang on about it.
That’s a little voice that I have in my head. But I want to talk despite that, because it illustrates perhaps the most powerful thing that I’ve ever done. Something that I believe is one of the most powerful things that any of us can do:
Telling our story.
Let’s talk about… me!
Okay, so nobody likes a show off. And, as someone that has spent more time than is emotionally healthy in the murky waters of online dating, nobody likes a narcissist. Well, not over the long-term anyway. Except for the narcissist themselves of course. Anyway, I digress…
I don’t list the things above to inflate myself. Truth is, it still feels kind of surreal when I think about it, and the overriding sense that I have is one of gratitude for the opportunities that have come my way.
But there’s a reason that they have come my way, and it all started with the decision I took to tell my story, in the belief that somehow, somewhere, it could help somebody else.
A species of storytellers
Human beings are a story-telling species. From painting in caves to shooting the shit around the campfire, humans make sense of the world in which we live by telling stories. It’s how we relate to the world, and it’s how we relate to each other.
Each one of us is a story, made up of many short stories. And each of those stories has the power to influence the stories of many others. @3DMathW (Click to Tweet!)
It can be difficult to tell our story. Telling our story – and sharing it with the world, should we choose to do so – opens us up to the opinions and judgements of others. Will they think less of us? Will they think we’re weird? Weak? Full of ourselves? Or will they just think that we’re boring?
Find your purpose, find your people
It doesn’t matter. Because telling the story that is true to ourselves, whether that be to the whole world or to a small circle of people we know, is what matters. That is where we can find our own power, purpose and strength; where we can find meaning in the little corner of this infinite universe that we inhabit.
Your story won’t appeal to everybody, but it will appeal to somebody. And when telling your story, your truth, you will find your people. The people that will relate to your story, that are inspired by it, are moved by it.
When you find your voice, and find your people, your story can spread further than you ever imagined. I am proof of that.
My story involves speaking about things that society has made very difficult for people to speak about, although thankfully this is changing. Sometimes it can be easier to be silent, or to shape our story to fit the expectations of what others hope to hear. There may even be good reasons for doing so. But a true story, honestly told, has a power that can break through even the strongest of walls.
The power of telling your story
Sharing my story has brought nothing but good into my life, and not just in the opportunities that it has given me. In telling – and owning – my story, I have a stronger sense of who I am and how I can make the most of the time that I have here, then I ever had before. And any fears that I may have initially had about what others might think, have been shown to have no part to play in my story.
What’s your story?
Whatever your story is, own it. Be proud of the challenges you have overcome. Be proud of who you are. If there’s things you don’t like about your story then pick up your metaphorical pen and change them. None of us are perfect, and there may be things in your life that you’re not proud of, so use them to write future chapters that you will be proud of.
Ask yourself, what’s your story? Who do you want to know and understand it? Whose life can it change?
Remember, it’s your story and only you can tell it. And don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
Matthew Williams is an author, blogger, speaker and coach. He lives in the North East of England with his two young children. He is passionate about positive change and turning life’s challenges into lessons for creating a better future. He hopes that by writing about his own experiences he will be able to inspire others to make positive changes in their lives. His first book, Something Changed: Stumbling Through Divorce, Dating and Depression, is available now.
Image courtesy of Mario Purisic.