It’s the question we all lead with: “So, what do you do?” Which is just our passive way of asking, “What’s your story?” Because we couldn’t possibly just lead with that. Nope, much too intimidating. Because for one thing, it’s too dangerous. Dangerous because we could end up getting a 45 minute story that we do not want nor ask for, don’t have time for, and can’t figure how to get out of without pulling a walkoff.
After all, you just never know when you’ll run into one. One of them. The incredibly detailed and intricate story people. They’re Everywhere! Those beautiful souls who have a special story about everything. And they blend in so well with society. God bless them all, they really do think you want to hear about their ongoing battle with the jerks at the credit card company.
But it’s also dangerous because we as the story giver need to be sure that you’re worthy of our story. If I’m going to make myself vulnerable and tell you details that not everyone knows about me, you need to earn that. Unless of course, I’m aforementioned super detailed story guy in which case I have no problem at all telling you about the time I worked as a busboy at this place called The Peach Pit in LA. No, wait, that’s 90210.
I think stories are fascinating to us for a couple of reasons. First of all, everyone has one. And knowing yours helps me be connected to you. If you played on the best 2-8 football team in all the land in high school, then, hey, you’re like me!
And furthermore, when we know someone’s story, we see them. We finally see them for who they really are. They cease to be a nameless face and are now somebody. When we know their story, we can better understand the way they think. We can empathize and even be compassionate towards them. We can understand why they need our mercy. And we willingly give it because we know them.
When you commit to a mentoring relationship of any kind, you are saying to that person: “I see you and I believe in you.” Every community has a story, every school has one too. And each kid in each school is a story waiting to be told. They’re out there waiting for you to be part of their story.