There's a human phenomenon I liked to call, "You better talk to her, she's better at this stuff."
Usually I heard the phrase right before an interview while working as a college television reporter or later, when I would ask people for a quick soundbite for the radio story I was working on.
Without fail, if I ever had a husband and wife in front of me, the husband would always step out of frame and utter the classic phrase, "you better talk to her, she's better at this stuff."
In a news setting, this hardly caused me any heartburn or frustration. But, I worry this same mentality sneaks into how we view our own personal experiences and histories, and consequently stops us from telling them.
This mentality is reserved for the husbands or the introverts. I've heard some variant of that phrase come from the bubbliest of ladies and the most gregarious of men.
There's something inside us that makes us say, "not my story, it doesn't matter." Perhaps it's the shelves of famous biographies we pass at the library or our perceived notion that 20 years as a city garbageman is hardly worth listening to.
I'm here to blast those ideas out of the water. Your story does matter!
In all of my reading, studying, training as a journalist, I have yet to find any kind of law or universal rule stating only famous, high ranking peoples' stories matter. The world may remember Kennedy, Lincoln and Washington, but your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will learn much more valuable lessons from the story of you.
I can't count the times I've found a relative from centuries ago whose story has a similar strand or two to mine.
Take, for example, the following story of my great grandfather James Christensen, as related by their daughters Edna and Ellen.
"When James first arrived in Utah he found work as a printer and was paid a dollar a week. At the end of the first year he sent the entire $52 home to his parents, he had not spent one cent on himself.
In later years James often told the story of his first spending money. Near the end of the first year a gentleman who was in the printing shop gave him a shiny new dime and told him he was to spend it for himself.
James deliberated long and hard. He had never acquired a taste for sweets so he didn’t spend his dime in the candy store as many children would. One day he saw some tempting red fruit in a store, and thinking it was apples, which he loved, he spent his dime for two of them. Imagine his disappointment when he discovered he had spent his cherished money on tomatoes, which he had never seen and definitely did not like!"
Imagine my surprise when I discovered someone in my family tree who's dislike for tomatoes rivaled my own. I think of him every time I make a meal or compile my grocery list.
If you would have asked my grandfather if that particular detail would matter hundreds of years later to one of his great granddaughters, he likely would have laughed it off.
But, thankfully his daughters Edna and Ellen included that detail in his family history and today I know I have a unique connection to my ancestor whom I now think of almost daily.
I can't tell you what small part of your story will matter to your future posterity, but I can tell you your story will mean the world to them.
So, step back into the camera frame, buckle up and get ready to tell your story.