Telling Our Own Stories

Photo is of an abstract mix of different vertical lines and colors.
Photo by L. Laguna

This morning I recorded the podcast episode Dancing on My Own. (You can also find the stream of my latest episodes on the newly added Podcast webpage for Unfiltered Snapshot.) What started off as a conversation about dancing transitioned to one about women and the she-cession.

After recording the episode, I was reminded of how much technology has advanced so that people can create websites with blogs and produce podcasts with little to no cost.

Years ago, I remember expressing to my friend, who used to work in media, that I wanted to create a personal blog, but I was not sure which website builder to use. Ultimately, I chose WordPress.

Then I told this same friend that I wanted to create a podcast, but it seemed expensive. I did not have fancy equipment, and I did not have a sound studio or closet where I could record one with good quality. It was not until last year that another friend told me about Anchor.

Before this starts sounding like a commercial for WordPress and Anchor, let me just reflect on how the fact that I am even doing these two things is so much progress compared to where I was years ago. I did not have the knowledge, skills, and personal connections to understand how easily I could pursue creative projects with the capabilities of modern platforms. It is reminding me how old I am getting and how far society has come in terms of allowing more digital spaces for self-expression.

When I was in college, I considered being a journalism major. In fact, I took one class in it before I was wooed by the study abroad options that came with choosing a bachelor’s degree in international studies. Could I have studied abroad as a journalism major? Sure, but it was not required for journalism. If I wanted to convince my parents that I needed to study abroad so that I could graduate, it meant that I had to choose a major that required study abroad. Plus my parents made it clear to me that I could not choose Spanish as a major. I did not so I made Spanish one of my minors, and sociology became the other because I liked it. That is how I ended up earning a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies.

Although I did not pursue journalism as a major or career, that does not mean I stopped being interested in writing, speaking, interviewing, and the other skills that come along with the field.

Between my cancer diagnosis and the pandemic, these interests returned to the surface for me. I do not know how I could have survived these things were it not for the opportunity to write, speak, and engage in candid interviews and conversations through my blog and podcast.

Does this mean I want to change my career to journalism? Not necessarily.

I still like practicing these skills because I am using them on my terms for my passions and my purposes. Once someone switches to using particular skills for a job, that sometimes takes away the love of the craft. When I was growing up, I watched enough Oprah episodes to believe that doing a job that I loved was the highest form of expressing my dedication to a field or craft. As I have gotten older, I realize that is not always true. Sometimes keeping something as an avocation rather than a vocation keeps the love for something alive. As one of my former students told me, theatre was something she wanted to come home to rather than do for a job. She felt like that about theatre, and this is how I currently feel about writing and podcasting. The benefits of doing this as an avocation mean I can retain my autonomy and authenticity.

Now it is always possible to keep one’s autonomy and authentic voice if they do something as a job, but it is not always guaranteed. The is a fact of adulting.

At least for now, I like that I get to tell my own stories during this challenging time in my life and during this transformative era in world history. Not enough of us get to tell our own stories through public channels. There may be other people who want to interpret or reinterpret our stories, but with advances in technology, those other people do not have to have the final say.

Have you had the privilege of being able to tell your own stories? What in your life has allowed you to have this gift that not every person gets to have?

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