There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you. – Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was right. Whether it is that great science-fiction novel that has been churning in your head for the last twenty years or a heartbreaking admission of being molested as a child; there is a story in all of us. And for some, the need to put the story out there can be unbearable to suppress but equally daunting to release. Why do we need to tell our stories? What stops us from fulfilling that need?
One of the most basic human qualities is the need to share. We want to talk about ourselves. We want others to know how the world looks while standing in our shoes. We seek understanding. Yet, our fear that others won’t understand is what often prevents us from sharing our stories. We fear that others have no interest in what we have to say. We have insecurities about our abilities to express our thoughts clearly. If we cannot bring forth understanding then we leave ourselves open to being judged by someone who may not have all the information. That is a frustrating and frightening prospect for most of us.
Sharing may be a fundamental need but certainly not our only one. Another baseline trait we all have is the need to fulfill our own desires. Suppressing a need, letting things fester inevitably leads to an explosion, metaphorically speaking. Tempers erupt, emotions spill out; often unexpectedly and uncontrollably. Keeping our stories locked up stifles our thinking. It depletes precious space needed for new thoughts and ideas.
For those who do get their stories out, you will often hear them say they do it because they need to. Believe them. That need does not and should not mean that they don’t want others to know their story. But one is a need, the other a desire. If you need to tell your story then do it. Write it, speak it, paint it, play it. Use whatever method comes natural to you. Fulfill your need. Worry about if anyone is paying attention later.