Writing your own Story

Writing your own Story

Life as a Story

One mental health benefit I have gained from writing hundreds of thousands of words nobody has read yet over the last five years is that I have began to think of life as a story of sorts.

Stories can be short, simple, easy to understand, or long complicated, drama filled tragedies and comedies. It is also a cliche to “Write your own story”

Here are some tips and tricks I have learned over the years about life and storytelling.

  1. Other people will write some of your own story for you by telling you how to live and what you should be doing. This is an inevitable part of life, people love to gossip about people. The problem is when it is sinful gossip, even if what someone is saying is true, if it comes from a place of a anger, frustration, hatred, and needlessly talking about someone else behind their back with an intent of doing harm to that person’s life, then it is not good for either person’s story or for the heart. Gossip and or “writing someone else’s story” should come from a place of love, acceptance, and forgiveness. Instead often times it comes from jealousy, despair, and evilness.
    1. There are good ways and bad ways to tell someone else’s story behind their back. Be mindful of being too vindictive, too angry, unhelpful. This vindictiveness eventually chips away at the good parts of one’s personality. Do you level best to say nice things about other people when they are not around. It’s like Thumper in Bambi said, “If you can’t say something nice don’t say nothing at all.”
    2. But we are all human and make mistakes all the time, it’s just helpful to remind ourselves that if someone confided in us their secrets to take into account the trust they showed in sharing with you that information. Be respectful, and don’t just go around gossiping their secrets around as a way to prevent them from attaining their goals and dreams. But if someone does that to you, sharing your secrets around to people, try to be forgiving. Forgiveness heals almost anything if it is true and honest.
    3. There are some things that are inconsequential that fall into the category of other people writing your story. For example, when I moved to this new home a lot of family began offering their opinions about where to put furniture, how to do the landscaping, where to get this or that, what’s the best way to deal with the mortgage, which upgrades to get, so on and so on and so on. A lot of this was discarded and me and my Dad did what our original idea was anyway, because it’s our house and we are living in it. But some of their ideas were good and we did a few of them, the point being is this came from a place of love so it isn’t that big of a deal.
  2. Ideally a relationship is best when two individual people are focused on their own goals and ambitions, independently filled of love and happiness, and decide to share a book/life together. Each contributing short stories to the book of their relationship that both enjoy and are not harmful to the other. Sometimes the book goes off into another direction, other times the relationship book ends before one person wanted it to. This is okay, and natural. But the problem is when an individual’s identity, and personality is solely built on the words in that book. Here is an example.
    1. There are plenty of women who only know what it is like to be in a relationship, they could married moms, single moms, divorced moms, not a mom but divorced, single, or in a relationship. The point being is a woman is about 40 years old and only has had 2 or 3 years of not being in a relationship since she was 18 she is a relationship person. Her life story is the books of her past relationships and probably forgot about writing her own book of stories along the way. There is nothing wrong with this, it is just sometimes how people’s stories go. Also these women have a lot of different hats to put on for other people. Here is a hypothetical example of a divorced mom of two.
      1. She is the ex wife to her ex husband who is also a co parent. There are stories in her book about this.
      2. There is her being a mom to two kids, which includes: grocery shopping, dinner, helping with homework, emotionally supporting her kids as they grow up, being a cab driver to practices, rehearsals, school engagements, friends houses and so on. Not to mention, laundry, housecleaning, doctor’s appointments, and basically this list is super long and there is never any time for this mom to contemplate how she wants to write her own story. Her story is her kid’s story.
      3. This divorced Mom probably has girlfriends who gossip and complain about their kids and their relationships, so her book includes stories and words from those women. She also may have a male friend who is interested in her but she is not, which is problematic and a story or two is in her book about this guy.
      4. She may have a boyfriend or lover of some kind in which she is a girlfriend. Which is a new book being written alongside the continual book of her ex husband, kids, and girlfriends.
      5. She probably has a job which includes a whole lot of stories and words being written about what she does for her boss, her manager, or whoever is in charge of the company she works for. This is another hat she has to put on or role she has to play.
      6. Finally she is a daughter to her mom and dad, which makes her book include words and stories written by them as well.
    2. The point being is that this woman might only get a day per year or a few hours here and there over the year in which she has time to herself to contemplate who she is, what she wants, and how she wants to write her own story. Her book is full of other people’s words and stories. Which is actually normal for many women, and not at all a problem.

Writing your own story as a Man

I am sure I could just switch the pronouns in the hypothetical you just read and you the reader probably know a man that has a similar book of stories. Like I said, it is impossible to avoid other people contributing words and writing to your story. Even though this could be fairly normal for women, for men it is the opposite.

For men, our stories are about manners, knowing when and where to play the role we are expected to play. Situational awareness, social awareness, and understanding how habits, routines, and manners influence how others view us is a central part of the psychology of success for men.

Men enjoy the fantasy of being the lone cowboy out in the open range wrestling wild cattle with nothing but a rope, a gun, and a horse. Old western movies of men fighting the injustice of greedy landowners while being the only person standing up for the little guy and winning at the end. This fictional fantasy of manhood is not that toxic, it is in essence a man doing his own thing, living his life his own way, fighting against other people more powerful then him telling him how to live. This idea is central to the plot of a man writing his own story.

As an artist who is constantly battling the world of other artist’s past work and originality this concept is one I am keenly aware of constantly. It is a constant struggle to do my art my own way, write the words that I want to write even if they are not good, nobody will ever read them, and not what people want. As an artist and a man, it goes against my very nature to go with the crowd. Also as an artist, I am keenly aware that in art, almost everything has already been done before and the only way to make money in art is to sometimes go with the crowd. This is a constant battle of every artist, not just me.

But this is the problem of manhood as well. Men enjoy tinkering in the garage, mowing the lawn, fixing stuff around the house. Even if we are delusional and think that we can rebuild an entire car with a $50 kit from Harbor Freight, we still try to do these things ourselves. These lonely activities of doing something ourselves without the help of others is something that manhood is. Whereas motherhood or womanhood is partially about being consumed by other people’s stories and words, manhood is about doing things alone without help, being a lone cowboy out on an open range fighting injustices while also wrestling cattle. Except nowadays, that could simply being a guy who takes really good care of his small yard and has an awesome grill in the backyard.

The point being is here are some things I do that have helped me write my own story my way.

  1. I make YouTube videos of me saying what is on my mind. I don’t care if it is politically correct, or incorrect, or whatever phrase is in vogue at the time. I just say what is on my mind and post. This helps me get a better handle of what is me vs what is other people’s words they are trying to make me say. This was especially important in the field of politics and government during COVID.
    1. I write what is on my mind and what I want to write without the concern of it being commercially acceptable or what people on the internet want. I just assume people don’t now what they want, and I don’t write for them, I write for myself, so I’m going to write what I want.
    2. I take the long game approach to things. Just because I have failed at something at one time, does not mean that if I try again at a later time I will fail again. If all I have ever known is failure and rejection chances are I am doing something right, nobody likes the truth, nobody likes honesty, people enjoy living in a fictional world. I figure that rejection and failure is just a mirror to honesty and truth. And I believe honesty and truth will eventually outlast rejection and failure and defeat it. This approach is not for the feint of heart, and it takes patience and a lot of forgiveness.
    3. Work out and exercise. Good health and a fit physical body is the only thing that can not be done by other people for you. Someone who is physically fit had to put in the work to get that way. Nobody else will do your sit ups and push ups for you, you gotta do those yourself. Also a fit physical body probably makes future stories that you will write in your book better than if you were fat and lazy.
    4. I started my own art business, and I do my art my way regardless of commercial success. There are few things more manly or more “writing your own story” than starting your own business and being a failure that may one day be somewhat successful. Men especially, but people in general, need to make a living off the sweat off their own back, and what is going on inside their own mind. There is something primal in our psychology about the need to be a success on our own terms instead of other people’s expectations or desires, or wishes for us. It can be so easy to fall into a trap of living a life that is not your own because other people wanted you to become something. This situation even though may be successful and well intentioned from a place of love, can also be like an abusive relationship that is difficult to get out of. Writing your own story, or starting your own business doing what you love to do is a way of escape, a way of reclaiming your own individuality and creativity, and becoming that metaphorical lone cowboy out on the open range fighting injustice and wrestling cattle.
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