How To Find Your True Story

Written by Debra Olshan Cooper,
President and Founder of Your Career Design lab

“Owning our own story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy-the experiences that make us vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

Brene Brown

“Who Are You?” When was there a time in your life when someone cared to ask that question? Or were the ones of the messages that pertained to your achievements like “What tennis team are you on?” “What college are you going to?” “What is your GPA?”.

The list goes on for What do you do, but Who Are You? In our society that question seems to be the most important, the most pivotal, the most vulnerable and yet we never ask.

Have you ever been to a cocktail event when someone ever asked, “Who are You? or is it “What do you do for a living?” What we do is not how we live. It is one of those questions that make you ponder for what I deemed during Covid “thinkubate.” Think about who you are and what makes you the unique individual you are. 

Storytelling is essential as a pathway to come to know who we are and what and where we truly belong.

It is not the story that stems from our pain kinda of story or that gets us stuck in our story, but rather a way to understand our past and what brought us joy, happiness and a sense of belonging not to anyone, but to ourselves.

Today’s catch words and phrases like “People-pleasing, “Low self-esteem” OCD, Imposter syndrome, anxiousness have all become a badge of honor for Gen Z’s. How do we change that narrative to self acceptance at all costs?

Here are five steps to step into your true and authentic self:

1. The first course of action when seeking a career is to first identify who you are, what is best for you and then seek out mentors who can be your GPS to getting to where you need and want to go. Listening to outside voices who believe they know you better than you know yourself or people who have a belief that their way is better for you are sorrily mistaken. Check out our TA DA list that prompts you to ponder this question.

2. Failure breeds success and unless we allow for failure, the pendulum to the above catchphrases cannot diminish. You are setting yourself up for failure when you identify yourself as one part of the whole picture- which is YOU.

3. Owning your story in a way that brings you value and one that allows you to speak it with confidence and conviction are the touch stones of which to step by step reach your pinnacle whatever that might look like. It does not have to be big, grand, robust- it requires vulnerability and truth on your part to share yourself. This act of sharing allows for deep connection and rep-ore. This is how relationships are built and are fostered. This is how your boat becomes moored.

4. Share your story with communities that align with your value. According to one client from the University of Delaware stated, “we have a strong need to belong. Having a strong community is of extreme importance. In my work, helping Gen Z’s or any young person who has gone through the isolation of the pandemic to find yourself and where you belong helps in all aspects of your life from the mental, physical, and psychological state of well-being. 

5. Lead yourself into the world you want, Be the change you want to see in the world. Choose yourself, choose your light and the darkness will fade. 

Integrate your parts into a whole. We all seek connection so put out those pieces and let them shine. I want to know your story.

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