Twice a year, I have the opportunity to work a side gig and gain a few extra dollars for my pocket. NASCAR is not an event I follow or even enjoy. Watching it on TV is akin to watching paint dry in my opinion. Watching it in person is an exercise in LOSING MY HEARING! (Sorry. Just wanted to make sure you heard me!) While the biggest reason I work at these events is the paycheck, which is decent, given the temporary/part time status, the other benefit is the people. Every size, shape, economic status, ethnic origin, regional dialect, fashion style, and hairdo is represented at a NASCAR event. The people watching is a calendar event. (I’m talking rednecks, executives, mullets, drunks, celebs who fear they might get assaulted by the autograph-seeking crowd. You get the picture. Oh, and people who think the employees were born yesterday and come up with some interesting schemes to reach the suites for free food.)
I’ve been participating in this gig for nearly eight years, and each time I gain some insight regarding the people I see from a distance, interact with briefly or longer, or work alongside. This weekend was no different. I sometimes imagine what kind of story is behind each human that shows up in that venue. And then there are times when I have the opportunity to hear a story that I never imagined.
This weekend one person I’ve worked with this entire time shared a very personal story with me. I’m not at liberty to re-share it, but I have to say that it gave me a new perspective about this person. He is a fun-loving, always joking, intelligent guy. And for eight years I did not know anything about a very difficult time he had been through as a teen. I always enjoyed working with him and anticipated catching up before each event. After this weekend, I feel inspired to know what he shared, as well as honored that he felt the freedom to share it with me. His making himself vulnerable just confirms what I attempt to drill into my clients. Every story matters.
Every time I get a new group of clients, they look at me in horror when told they will be writing their life stories and sharing them with the group. Some have developed so many defense mechanisms and so much distrust that the process is excruciating. Some don’t want to share because they feel like they didn’t experience something bad enough to explain their drug use and behaviors that resulted in their incarceration, especially after hearing some of their peers’ stories. What they discover is that every story has something that can relate to their own. Every story matters.
This weekend as I heard an unusual and unexpected story of courage and strength, from someone I’ve known for years, I was reminded that my story matters, too. Someone needs to hear it because maybe it will be at the exact time they needed it. Your story is important, too. Someone out there needs to hear it. Please share it. It could save someone.