Stories are in our DNA – they are how we know ourselves and the world around us.
Which is amazing… when they’re great stories. Like those about how our grandparents fell in love or how to avoid certain death.
But what about the stories in our DNA that are defining us without our permission? The ones that are dictating our behavior and beliefs without us even really realizing it?
So this one is for the women and non-binary folx…
There are FAR more women that I come across who fear telling their stories and struggle to get them out there than men. Men don’t have quite the same concerns around owning the telling of their stories.
Women, on the other hand, say they fear vulnerability and over-sharing… but in reality, the issue is much deeper.
The real issue is in the stories that are written in our DNA… and how they shape how we feel about our stories.
What do I mean by this?
Look at some of the stories of women in our history and how they’re told:
The entire downfall of Egypt rests on Cleopatra’s relationships with Caesar and Mark Anthony.
Medusa was a hideous and vicious monster, responsible for the death of men at a mere look.
The world was perfect until Eve was created; Eve was the cause of all sin.
So our earliest examples of the Hero’s Journeys (the way most stories are written) feature male heros who fight for power. The minute there’s a female lead, she’s responsible for pain, betrayal, and ruin.
And even though, yes, there is a Heroine’s Journey that puts a female lead in the same arc as the Hero’s Journey – it’s still very new. Pixar’s Brave was one of the first examples of a story that featured a female as the lead, accomplishing the same feats that her male hero counterpart would.
And Brave came out in 2012.
Our stories come prepackaged inside the shame and guilt associated with the stories of women in the past.
NO WONDER WE STRUGGLE TO TELL THEM!
But here’s the beautiful thing… the thing that is really amazing.
We have the power to tell our stories in the way WE want to tell them.
Where the power struggles and slaying enemies isn’t the narrative – as it’s never been for us – but it’s replaced with community and collective knowledge and empathy and wisdom and powerful change – as has always been true for us.
I love to look at New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as a great example of how we are rewriting the narrative of what it means to be a powerful hero. In order to protect the people of her country and bring back normalcy in 2020, she completely obliterated expectations.
Ardern traded her complete authority for collective wisdom. She swapped power struggles with empathy and kindness. And she mobilized and leveraged the knowledge of experts outside of herself, leaning on their insights to solve bigger problems.
And she was completely successful – bringing normalcy back to her country in record time while being elected to a second term in a landslide victory.
That’s the narrative of a Hero’s Journey women actually write.
Which makes me wonder how Eve would tell her own story…
Or Cleopatra. Or Medusa.
Because, in reality…
Eve was a wildly curious human, searching for innovation and knowledge of an experience outside of Adam’s world.
Cleopatra was a fiercely loyal woman, fighting for the future of an entire culture and empire.
And Medusa was once an intoxicatingly beautiful woman, punished and cursed for life by Athena for being the victim of rape at the hands of Poseidon within Athena’s temple.
I’ll leave you with this final question: how do you actually want to tell your story?
Without the expectation of how you should, or the stories that live inside of our DNA that are dictating how we think we should, or how others say you should…