Maybe you’re ready to dive right into the LifeWriting process. If so, you can skip this section! But if you’re hesitating, you’re not alone. It’s often hard for people to commit to the idea of recording their life stories. There are lots of different concerns that stand in their way, but here are a few of the ones we’ve heard . . . and some good reasons to put them aside.
My life’s pretty ordinary. Who would be interested in hearing my old stories?
Every life is unique and worth reflecting on. Your experiences and insights provide a fascinating context for your loved ones to understand the times and places you’ve lived. Children are especially curious about the everyday details, the similarities and differences between your childhood and their own.
Your stories may help others put their own lives into perspective. Challenges and choices, happiness and sorrow, regret for paths not followed, pride about particular accomplishments, meetings and partings, funny, sweet, and even painful memories . . . these are the elements of a life fully lived. The wisdom and humility of your years can build a reassuring sense of family identity and continuity.
It doesn’t seem healthy to spend so much time thinking about myself.
Modesty can make people uncomfortable with the idea of talking about themselves. But in actuality, reminiscing and telling personal stories has great therapeutic value. In the process of reflecting about their lives, people often see patterns, recognize how certain of their personality traits developed, and come to terms with who they are at this stage of their lives. As they make connections between their past and their present, they can look more confidently to the future.
Some things are better left unsaid.
There may be parts of your story that you’re not ready or willing to tell. Perhaps you feel you
might hurt someone by revealing certain information. It’s always your choice as to what events to include in your story.
However, it can sometimes be valuable to share those memories that have the strongest emotional impact. With the wisdom that comes with age, you may see the event in a new light, letting go of much of the pain. Your revelation may also be instructive to someone who faces a similar situation, or may bring understanding to others who were confused or troubled by the event.
It’s too big a job. I wouldn’t know where to begin.
That’s why it’s great to have an experienced professional historian to guide you. I’ve been writing and organizing publications for more than 30 years. I can help you decide which parts of your life to highlight, and plan a schedule to get the project done in a relaxed but timely way.
I’m not sure I’d be comfortable sharing my stories with a stranger.
People are often surprised at how easy and downright enjoyable it is to be interviewed for a life story. When you chat with friends and family, there’s a lot of conversational give and take. It’s a real treat to tell stories to someone who’s only there to hear your side of things! I enjoy listening and asking questions, and I find people easily open up to me. But if you’re not comfortable after our first interview session, let me know and we’ll reevaluate the project. It’s all up to you.