Has anyone ever asked “what’s your story”? Maybe, you’ve heard someone say “this is my story”. Or, perhaps you’ve asked, “what’s their story?”
Why do we look to ‘back story’ to explain our present state? Why do we look to the past to understand today? Why do we judge a person on what’s already happened?
There are many answers to these questions and while you should take a moment to think about them, the answers are not what I’m looking for. Rather, I’m asking you to recognise the effect and implications of backstory.
Stay with me, there’s a point.
Recently I was discussing the novel The Outsiders with a year 7 class. We were looking at the character of Johnny and evaluating how Hinton (the author) foreshadowed future complications. This is what storytellers do. They thrust readers into the middle of the action and then, as the narrative progresses, they slowly reveal the situations and events that brought their characters to this point.
More importantly, how does it help us? What does it teach us?
In Johnny’s case we learn that his nervousness is a combined result of being abused at home and attacked by the Socs (a rival gang). This brutal bashing provides a context for later events. It is not my intention to explore the novel. Rather I use it to illustrate a point. I use it to encourage you to think about the power of the author. I use it to show how you how the author controls the story through the experiences of the characters.
What would you do if you had the author’s influence? What could you do if you had the power to manipulate your ‘story’, could you influence the future?
While it is true you can’t go back to alter your history, it is possible to shift your perception. You can look back to understand something you didn’t before.
You may be wondering, how can this shape my future?
This is the arena for hopes, dreams and the tangible reality of goals. If you have a clear vision – a target to aim for, you can focus your actions toward that goal. In other words, you become the author shaping a backstory for your future.
Think about it, what is your backstory? How has it influenced the choices you make? Now, use those thoughts to project yourself into the future. What choices can you make today to influence the backstory you’ll tell in a years time? Where would you like to be?
It’s a good idea to write these ideas down. Writing makes them tangible and gives your mind time to digest the thoughts and emotions. You may even like to try this MyStory Reflection activity.
MyStory Reflection Activity
1. Ask yourself, what is my backstory? How has it influenced the choices I make?
2. Use these thoughts to project yourself into the future. What choices can you make today to influence the backstory you’ll tell in a years time?
3. Write these ideas down and put them in a folder or envelope.
4. Date the folder / envelope and put it away in a safe place.
5.Write a note in a calendar to remind yourself to open the envelope or folder in a years time.
6. Repeat this process each month.
In a years time you will have an envelope to open. Be patient, wait the year. After a year open the first envelope and read your thoughts from a year ago. How does it relate to the life your living now? Be positive, recognise what you have learnt and use your thoughts to write a new reflection.
Repeat the process for another year. Each month you will have an envelope to open and a new story to create.
I wonder what you’ll discover.
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