Why I Tell Stories

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.


  1. I’m so glad you shared this! As soon as I read it, I went straight to my old grad school notebook and opened my envelope, too. What a great reminder about why we do what we do.

    1. I know, what a visionary exercise!

  2. Beautifully written! I think many people can relate to your words. Thanks for sharing!

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