It’s easy to dismiss stories, to think them unimportant, something for casual entertainment or idle amusement but it’s worth remembering, it wasn’t always so. Every time we stretched ourselves across the globe, explored new continents and visited far off lands we came across peoples, vastly different in culture and heritage to ourselves. In learning about them we learned their stories. They, like us, had a history of storytelling stretching back to the furthest memory of time.
These stories played and still play an important role in helping us understand and relate to our cultural and personal identity. Some stories we hold to be true, others are regarded as myth, legend or fable but all of them have a power to tell us something about who we are today. Stories have always helped us to understand where we stand; our relationship to the world around us, to nature, the environment, to each other and to those who have gone before us.
But for this to work, for this essential function to be a healthy and significant part of our lives we need to find ourselves within the story. When we hear a tale of far off ‘when and where’ we should be transported to that place, stand where the viewer stood and feel what they felt.
So what happens if you can’t do that? What happens if you’re not in the story? If your race, your gender, your sexual orientation aren’t represented in the stories that we consider as defining ‘who we are’? Then the opposite happens. Instead of connected, we feel isolated. Instead of included we become marginalised. We don’t find a place, we feel as though we have no place, that we don’t belong and the deep pain of separation settles into our heart.
So to everyone who feels themselves to be part of a marginalised or under-represented group, let me ask one thing of you. Tell your story. Tell it for you but also tell it for everyone who might feel as you do, who may one day stand where you’re standing so that when that day comes and they read your words they’ll know, ‘It’s not just me’.