Anyone who knows me knows I love to talk, and I talk to anyone. About anything. I'll even talk about math (and while it's not my favorite subject, it's not the subject to which I'm referring in this post). Usually I'm so jazzed about finding out about someone else, especially someone new, I forget to introduce myself. True story. Happens all the time. None of that comes as a surprise to me, though, as I really don't relish talking about myself.
What tickles me no end, however, is telling other's stories, and making people realize that theirs are worthy of telling.
Evidence: I had occasion to meet up with a friend about something business-y. We hadn't seen each other in a few years, and so much had changed. He was starting a new career and enjoying the fruits of his labors.
Years earlier, as an older student he had decided to enroll in college to pursue a bachelor's degree. I remembered because I had helped him with his Spanish courses, which proved very challenging for him after 15 years out of the classroom, and for me because of the way they were taught. But I digress...
During our conversation that day, it came out that that he didn't graduate from high school at that time that students typically graduate, at 17-19 years old. He seemed reluctant to admit that fact. Ashamed, even.
"I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I didn't graduate from high school. There were some problems..." he said.
But, there he was years later, in a career that he loves, after earning that college degree that was so important to him.
Oh no, no, no. "Are you kidding me? Yours is a great story," I said. "Look where you were and where you are. I hope you will tell your kids every single part of it. They will be proud, as you should be."
Where I live, and maybe where you do, too, there is an underscored need to "do" and "be" like everyone else and follow a certain path. It's exhausting. And unrealistic. The real beauty is that each of us has a unique tale. Remember that.
Keeping in mind that everyone has a story to tell, and one worthy of being told, I'm working with kids to help them tell theirs. I'm hoping that, if they just know a bit more about who they are - regardless of the trajectory of their lives - that they won't need to feel like my friend did.
So I offered up a little about me here. Only a little. And it relates to the mission of my books: identity. It's not just on a "need to know" basis. You need to know.