Your Life’s Narrative
Narrative: a spoken or written account of connected events; a story.
“the hero of his modest narrative”
What is your narrative? That could be asked of any situation, however, in this case I’m referring specifically to who we are, how we define ourselves, and how we are possibly setting up our children for disaster, and may have been doing so for generations.
What’s the most asked question of any kid from say, age 5 until he graduates college? That’s right, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As if this child, tween, teen, semi-adult has any clue what that even means. Let’s face facts, science has already declared the age of adulthood should be changed to reflect the fully formed brain which for women is between 22-24 and men 24-26. What this means is that this question forces a narrative onto a child that their brains won’t be able to fully comprehend until 22-26! Seriously!
Let me break this down even further for you. In this day and time we hear a lot of talk about being present, mindfulness, being in the moment, etc. This usually is in the same circles of talk as work/life balance. Along with this we have a nasty little narrative hiding out, just waiting to be sprung on someone unsuspecting with this gem of a question, “WHAT DO YOU DO?” LOL, OMG, did you really just ask that?!
The all important and powerfully defining question, “What do you do?” As if this one question will reveal everything there’s to know about you and thus, help to render an important decision, “Are you worthy enough to be seen with me, talk with or otherwise engage with me on any social level?” I love and have used Red Foreman’s (That 70’s Show) response to this many times. When presented with the aforementioned question, Red replies, “About what?!” Right! Great response to an inane question that produces little if any fruit for the interviewer or interviewee.
Of course this question is usually asked by someone who lacks a higher level communication in all manner of social situations. So, let’s take a look at the questions that shape these narratives and see if we can’t come up with some better questions that can better shape a more interesting narrative.
Let’s begin with children first. Instead of asking, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” How about we start with a fundamentally basic question that could shape a person’s character, like, “What KIND of person do you want to be when you grow up?” This creates a dialogue between child and parent as to what qualities and characteristics define a good or bad person. A second question we could ask not just to our children but all throughout life, and that is, “What kind of life do you want to live? Or What kind of lifestyle do you envision for yourself?” Again these questions create a dialogue that lead to proper planning by way of dreaming and achieving these dreams by way of goals setting.I read an article once that profoundly changed my way of thinking. In the article, the author was challenging the standard model of following your passions. He reasoned that most people set goals and start towards those goals without having a dream attached to them as the final destination. Essentially he said we need to dream first, then set the goals that will lead us to our dreams. Without the dream, you’re just wandering around aimlessly, fulfilling goals that lead to nowhere, again, this is a result of the wrong narrative. The narrative has an inception and destination, but it’s like Mad Libs fill in the blank fun pads we used to play with on long road trips. You have to fill in the blanks at both ends to have a complete narrative the provides you a fulfilling life journey.
So, what’s your narrative?