While cleaning out my stash of half-used notebooks today, I came across a sealed envelope titled “Why I Tell Stories.” On the back flap was the seal date of 04/20/2010. Not too long ago, but I still had no idea what it was.
When I opened it, I realized it was from an exercise one of my grad school professors, Angie Chuang, had us do for our “Race, Ethnic and Community Reporting” course. (I loved that class — check out my final project: “Manassas clinic serves immigrant population, battles for midwives’ rights”)
We were supposed to come up with a list reasons that we wanted to tell stories, seal it, and then sometime down the road, maybe when we needed some motivation or a reminder of why we chose this profession, open it up. Here’s what mine reads:
Why I Tell Stories
I tell them so people know.
What I’ve been through, what they’ve been through, what we’ve overcome.
I tell them because they give hope.
I tell them to remind myself.
I tell them for the emotion, for the connection.
I tell them because they open windows, doors, shades to other lives.
I tell them because they are pieces of us.
Our lives are stories to be told.
Clearly nothing more than a stream of thought, but reading that just a year later is still a great reminder of why I do what I do. I may not be in journalism anymore, but I still get to tell stories, or at least unabashedly publicize monumental story-tellers like Michelle Alexander.
Bottom line: stories are important, connect us and should be told.