“How was your weekend?” someone asks. It’s a fair question and a common one. And answering it presents an opportunity to curate your life: to showcase the parts you want people to see in order to keep people at a distance, or to invite them into more authentic relationship.
On Saturday, we went to a T-ball game. I sat on the sidelines with my brother who was in town for a visit, and watched my husband coach my two young boys. I could paint the perfect picture of family togetherness for you, sharing the sweetness of my six year old who yelled: “Mom, watch me hit this one!” right as he stepped up to bat.
I could tell you the story about how my husband’s grandpa coached T-ball for his dad, and his dad coached T-ball for him, and how special it is that he wants to continue that tradition for our sons. I could share how my oldest son chose to stay on the T-ball team with his little brother for another year, instead of moving up with his friends, just so that his dad could coach him again.
Or I could tell you the story of a long-suffering mother, who sat in the rain without an umbrella, wishing to be home with a hot mug of something caffeinated. “There are only 25 more games to go,” I might add to the story, a little eye roll for effect.
I might tell you that as soon as I stepped onto the field, my eye started watering, then both eyes started itching. I sneezed all through the game and kicked myself for forgetting to take some allergy meds before coming.
All of these versions of the story are true. There isn’t one that’s more accurate or correct than another.
So how should we frame our stories?
Our motivation will determine our answer. If we want to project an image of having it all together, of showcasing our beautiful lives, our answer will be polished and shiny. If we are distracted or rushed, if we don’t really have time to talk to the person asking, our answer will be short and superficial. If we are seeking to connect with someone on a deeper level, our answer will be longer, more vulnerable, more nuanced.
It’s the back and forth of those deeper and more nuanced answers that will foster more authentic community. It’s why in-person interactions are a thousand times more likely to lead to real connection than a caption on Instagram ever could. Because in sharing the shades of gray in our stories, we are able to find more common ground, we are willing to show more than one side of ourselves, and we are inviting our listener to do the same.
How can you tell your story in a way that invites deeper connection?
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