A couple of summers ago, I needed to escape DC. I needed to get away: from my job, from so-called friends, from everything. I needed to be around the friends that knew me and could offer a shoulder and a couple of strong margaritas.
So I flew to Atlanta to see my friends. I remember even breathing a sigh of relief as the plane took off from BWI and again as I walked through the ATL airport.
It was a wonderful few days. I had an exquisite night out, an afternoon of margaritas, time with two wonderful kids…still, I was lost in thought for a good chunk of it. One of the moments that stuck out was on my last full day in Atlanta. I’d stayed with my good friend Lola* (uh, I’ll call her Lola…she may not want me to use her real name) and her hubby and two kids. It was Sunday and we were on our way to church. As we rode, a gospel song came on the radio…one of those gospel songs that starts out with a monologue before the singing actually begins. In this case, the monologue was a story about a woman who had lost everything in some terrible way (no names used) and then gotten everything back in some way/shape/form. Again, I have to preface; I was in a weird place…my mind locked on the story the man was telling about a no-name woman. Somewhere. Who had lost something in a Conveniently Recent Disaster. It was slightly believable, but none of could be proven as factual. And who would dare to question a story about a woman who may or may not have lost everything in a devastating natural disaster?
Out loud, and clearly without filtering, I asked, “Is that story real? How do we know?”. Even from the back seat, I could see Lola* slowly shake her head and start giggling at a typical “Aisha” moment. Her oldest child chimed in, “Yeah, mommy – is that story real?”. Lola’s hubby laughed.
That was the moment I really started thinking about story; the story we listen to, the story we tell ourselves and the story others see.
This past Sunday morning I heard a similar song with a story monologue by Shirley Caesar. It’s called “I Remember Mama”. Midway through, she starts a monologue about “playing church” with her brother and sister. It’s a compelling, moving and totally believable story. Because it is her story and not a story about someone else.
This is a big deal to me. I’ve always been good at getting to the heart of others’ stories and it is believable when I tell it because it *is* their story in their voice.
The story I’ve been telling myself lately is that I’m completely alone in my business aspirations. Only I know what it looks and feels like. The color and smell of it. The shape of it. It is totally dependent on me. Sometimes that is the best freedom and other times it is the worst pain.
But, it is a completely untrue story! That is not the right story at all! I have a wonderful group of business women supporting me. They know I am a multi-skilled multimedia producer & consultant that also wants to build interactive spaces, both online and offline, virtual and real. They know that it is colorful, fun, witty, artistic and adventurous. I glide on the imagination, story and goals of others because it helps me know them! The dreams of their business are what I see when I’m putting video together!
You can’t see me, but I just clapped my hands and shouted “Yes!”
It doesn’t matter what the people-that-don’t-dream think about my business. They are NOT my customer. I *know* what I dream (and DO) about my business. Just because it doesn’t look like what someone else thinks it should look like shouldn’t DOES NOT matter!
It’s my story. It’s my song. If you don’t believe mine, then make your own – you’ll see.