What are the single stories you tell about your life? Why? Did you learn that the particular story is the only one people want to hear? Do you fear you might be punished because you moved away from the comfortable narrative that people accept as your existence. Have you been inserted in a box that supports primarily watered down versions of your existenace? How you tell your story matters. How people receive it, doesn't matter at all.
I remember when I started writing and publishing my writing. The landscape of "who I wanted to be" was hard to navigate. It was difficult not because I wasn't firm in my own identity, but because other's weren't okay with the identity I claimed. Pick a side! What is your niche! Wash-Rinse-Repeat.
If I highlighted a moment of triumph people questioned if I really "suffered" from depression. If I allowed myself to be authentic about the petty parts of my character, people wondered if I was being authentic when I talked about kindness. People were hungry, and still are, for single stories.
Just be funny. Or mean. Or edgy.
Integration kind of freaks people out because it makes people see the dark and light they have within themselves. Usually it is the dark they don't want to come to terms with. Evolution and becoming okay with your incongruence freaks people out EVEN more.
Adichie, in her Ted Talk, elucidated, “Show people as one thing and one thing only over and over again and that is what they become." She outlines what a single story has done to her and Africa. I would extend her discussion to say that the expectation of a single story can be just as damaging and just as painful. It robs us of our dignity to be fully human and messy. Writers and bloggers, though I don't always see how they are different, risk for their work. Most (at least the ones I know) explore parts of themselves publicly in order to process. It feels trite to write this; but maybe part of their drive is also to decrease the isolation that they experience and that their readers experience. Maybe art of their goal is to find common ground. Often times our readers become these cultural hegemonies that we have to answer to. The beauty and suffering of learning to write and write well is exchanged for keywords and entertainment value. When it comes time for the blogger to use what they know, their writing, to work through what they need to sort out many second guess the process. "What will my readers think?" Too often our readers have come accustomed to a single story and that story has become the box that limits what we write.
When you find out that the self- love writer you follow also is annoyed about a body image thing, remind yourself that they are not a single story. When your favorite family blogger goes through a rough divorce, remind yourself they are more than one story. Remind yourself that your expectations are not fair and are, in fact, rooted in your own need to keep life simple. Remind yourself that the richness and beauty of the internet are found in complex and difficult narratives as well as the light-hearted and entertaining.
We all have the right to take hold of the substantial alternative narratives of our lives, no matter how many readers it might cost us.