Stories of Ourselves Matter | Features

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Do you know the two most important stories of your life?

It’s not the story of your wedding day, becoming a parent, landing your dream job, or any other stage in life you might initially think of.

No, the first is the story you tell yourself and the second is the story others will tell once you are gone.

Let me explain.

The story you tell yourself will affect every decision you make and therefore decide your potential in this world and the impact you will make in it. What if the story you’re telling yourself is one of inability, unpreparedness, lack of confidence, or questioning your goal.

“I’m not the right person.”

“I can not do that.”

Turning that self-talk around to be intentionally positive will set the tone for you and your potential in your life and in our community.

The story that others will tell about you after you leave will also affect your life. Do you want others to tell your story as one of indecisiveness, not standing up for your beliefs, unable to grow, forgive, or accomplish?

What if, instead, those who love you said, “She made a difference.

“He changed his community.”

These two stories are the ones we write every day. They each serve as milestones for a good day at work, pushing through adversity and taking time to align your goal.

It seems appropriate to conjure up these stories in May, graduation season. This month marks the closing of old chapters and the beginning of new ones. What a perfect time to focus on writing your two important stories.

I recently spoke at the Owensboro Community and Technical College nursing program pinning. I told them that day that as graduates of nursing school, they were equal.

They successfully completed the same program and passed the same exams to become a registered nurse. But what they did after that day is what set them apart. Every day after graduation would provide the opportunity to improve, if not change, the world.

Yes, graduation marks the end of a great chapter.

Celebrate this accomplishment.

Celebrate that you made it.

But know that what you do with your degree and the lessons you’ve learned — whether in a classroom or with those around you — is what really matters.

I recently watched a keynote speech by American football icon Abby Wambach. Inspired by his words, I encourage you to do three things, whether you’re embarking on your next chapter after graduation, or you’re reading this and want to make a change.

Lead with a spirit of service.

Dream, set goals, achieve great things.

But also, serve those around you. Build up other people who may not have the same opportunities as you.

We rise by lifting others.

Don’t wait to be invited to the table.

Make the table.

Or, as I learned from Abby, flip the table. Make sure everyone is represented at the table.

And that last one is something I learned directly from Abby.

Don’t be put off by the daunting size of this world.

You are only bound to change or impact your “little worlds”.

Put your energy into making an impact in your office, your church, your family and the community in which you live.

We tend to focus on the end of a chapter and the bittersweet memories of what that chapter brought.

Instead, let’s focus on the next chapter, what’s on the horizon, and writing the rest of our two stories.

Amanda Owen is the founder and executive director of Puzzle Pieces. Follow Amanda’s blog and podcast Pieces of Me: Perspectives on Inclusion and Acceptance, www.piecesofme.org.

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