My Life Story

Rosanna Machado | August 11, 2020

Whilst catching up on my daily dose of pop trivia on PopMaster, I was struck by the fact that when we meet someone new, invariably the question is ‘What’s your job?’ or ‘Do you have a family?’ Our own assumptions about how they fit into social norms come into play, whether that’s conscious or not. Colleagues who had a career break have told me that being a full-time parent can sometimes feel like an inadequate response. And I’ve witnessed this myself, when I was asked which events I am delivering, it felt like a failure to say I was working on developing new business. Over the years, as I continue to take a slightly unconventional career path, I’ve become more comfortable with defining my story based on where I am and where I want to go. How can we reflect and build our own stories and how can we be more open when we meet others?

In the current times, more of us may face a transition in life. Transitions and change sound scary, however there is an opportunity to reframe it as a time for reflection and renewal. The exciting revelation for me was that we’re not stuck with the same story! I spend 20 years with the story that ‘I was rubbish at sport’ and yet the moment I decided to do sport for my own mental health and enjoyment, the by-product was that I got better. It sounds so simple, but we have stories from childhood, or social norms and beliefs we feel we should adhere to, when deep down it may not be what we really want.

When writing your story, think about what’s important to you – when do you feel fulfilled? Are there values that are important to you? Which parts of your life are you happy with and what would you like to change? What’s stopping you doing what you really want to do? Let go of parts of your story that are not useful to you and think about how your story can help you grow and move forward. Dan McAdams, a psychology professor says you have to “believe your story – but also embrace how it changes over time, according to what you need it to do. Try out new stories about yourself, and keep editing them, as much as you would your résumé.” I love this concept of rewriting it as much as your CV. I also know that during a transition, meeting someone new can be easier as they don’t have your backstory so you can start afresh but it is still possible to re-write it with colleagues that know you, with some self-belief and courage.

On the flipside, think about your interactions with new people. How can you ask more open questions? I think it’s lovely to share books or podcasts that you have enjoyed as finding common ground, values and shared interests is a great way to start a conversation. Ask people what they love doing rather than what they do. Most of all, try to put aside your own assumptions and go in with an open mindset. It may even spark some ideas for your own story.

We all have different stories and that’s what makes the world so rich. Let’s embrace that and the discomfort that comes with it, view it as an opportunity to grow and you never know, you may actually have fun rewriting the next chapter of your life!