From My Bookshelf: The Stories We Are

The Stories We Are: An Essay on Self-Creation by William Lowell Randall

How well have we pondered the metaphor of the story of my life?

Certainly, there is a link between a story of a life and literature. However, is life one long story? A series of chapters? And is literature reflective of life or of our wildest imagination? Does literature drive our stories or is it the other way around? When, where, or how is it when we sigh, The story of my life?

How do we live our stories? And how do we tell our stories? And what about the stories other people tell? When we tell a story or write, how do we decide to do it?

What caught my attention was this, on page 45: “It’s clearly not just the stories I tell about myself that affects the shape and direction of my self-creation but the stories others tell about me as well.” We are storied by others—whether through gossip, prejudice, ignorance, or a combination of all three. And these stories have a direct effect on the range of social, professional, and economic options that are open to us. 

Randall went on to explain how we have an outside story, the impression of ourselves to others; an inside story, the actual experiences of our lives; an inside-out story, our own version of our inside story that is chosen to be conveyed to others; and an outside-in story, the stories of our existence by those who know us. 

Yet, we “tell stories—any story—as a means of bringing order out of chaos” (page 66).

Most importantly, how do we listen to the stories all around us, even if they feel unsettling?

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