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The human experience: Our stories

By Debbie Ogunjobi
EVERY experience is compiled by the mind to form a story; the story begins from other people’s perspectives and opinions from when we are very little till we are able to collect our own as we get older. The stories get bigger and more interesting all through our lives and eventually outlive us.

Humanity is an extremely interesting species of creation as we are defined by stories that are often obsolete, untrue and not even our own. It all has to do with perception, we perceive something and immediately concoct an explanation that matches the scenario, the truth and fairness often has very little to do with the story we eventually formulate but therein lies the genius or craziness of humanity.

It has become a staple of universal culture that we enquire about people from themselves and others about their stories, we are compelled to define and compartmentalise everything and everyone so that we are comfortable. A typical introduction normally follows the names, the “how are you’s? And what do you do’s?” The questions begin and before long life experiences are being swapped some true other’s not.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a story detailing a human experience; it can be a tool for teaching, a source of entertainment but at no time are the stories we weave in our day to day lives to become strait jackets to hurt ourselves and others. I recently heard someone define a true friend as the one person who doesn’t confine you to your old story but is willing and able to support you to write another story as many times as possible.

The ability to change and flourish is seriously hampered if we are confined to stories that label us with no room for change. I have found that those closest to us are the major stumbling blocks to serious life changes.

Avoidabletragedy

I have never understood why other people seem threatened by their loved ones making different life changes that tell a different story; change is not always a bad thing and loving someone is not reason enough to confine them to expectations that are not fulfilling. An avoidable tragedy occurred in a family I used to know and it involved a father forbidding his daughter to move out of her matrimonial home.

He simply sent her back when she tried to move and asked her to make it work, according to him, no one in his family had ever been divorced and his daughter was not going to bring that stigma to shame the family. The tragedy was that the husband took this as licence to increase the intensity of violence on the wife and just a few weeks later pushed his wife down the stairs.

She has moved back into the home of the father that sent her back but in a wheelchair paralysed from neck down. Sometimes the greatest enemy is not the attacker but our loved ones that enable us to stay stuck in tragic stories just to maintain status quo.

There are also people who tell so many lies about their life that they eventually become a source of ridicule but my attitude has always been to believe anything I am told as long as it does not directly affect me adversely; I don’t have the energy to start sorting out stories that are at best irrelevant. I however get concerned that people often get left behind by other people’s expectations and live out a story that is not their own.

It’s never too late to start again and write a completely new story and while we can expect opposition especially from those nearest and dearest, our human experiences will be greatly enriched by multiple stories of change, growth, forgiveness, redemption, resilience!!

I am finding that rebelling against expectation in the pursuit of growth and personal fulfilment is liberating! A few years ago, I just tore up my old story, I sat down one day to reacquaint myself with myself and I hardly knew who I was.

I had interests I didn’t enjoy, friends I couldn’t trust and an image I couldn’t live up to. Initially when I withdrew into myself, I was purported to be broke, when that turned out untrue, I was labelled a religious fanatic and finally anti social but it is amazing that those same people are applauding my choice and bravery back then and making changes in their own stories now.

Any story especially when the main character is very much alive is subject to change, we all must look at ourselves and look at activities that have just become bad habits that we don’t enjoy or even need. In the same manner we need to look at the company we keep and see whether they are nurturing or toxic; time to do some gardening and weed out people who are parasites.

In our profession/vocations its time to pay attention and start shining instead of just muddling through form Monday to Friday for the sake of pay. Wherever and whatever position we find ourselves at this very minute, we all should remember that we are souls on this planet having a physical or is it human experience, make it count, write your story of choice, its your life, live it!!


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.