Opinion: Everyone Has a Story Including You

Glenn Mangurian

August 7, 2023 By Glenn Mangurian

“There are eight million stories in the naked city.” – Concluding line from the 1960’s television series, “Naked City”

Is it time to share your life story with you children?
My wife and I are frequent viewers of the PBS television program, “Finding Your Roots” hosted by Harvard professor, Dr. Henry Louis Gates. In each episode, celebrities and influential people from diverse backgrounds discover their ancestral histories, sometimes learn of secrets, and share their emotional experience with viewers.

“Finding Your Roots” reminds me that we each have a life chronicle that is continuously evolving often with twists and turns. At times our narrative is full of drama. Everyone’s narrative has peaks and valleys. We face challenges that help to define our character. But do we share our story with others? In particular, are our children interested? If not, who will carry our life stories forward to future generations?

Growing up, I lived in a multigenerational two-family home. My grandmother came to this country in the 1890s from the old country, Armenia. She was young, but I don’t know at what age she made the long trip. I know very little about her early life back in the old country, what brought her to America and how she lived as an adult who did not speak English. Like most kids, I wasn’t very interested and she wasn’t keen to talk about her life experiences. Sadly, the same was true of my parents. I didn’t know about their childhood, what life was like for them growing up. It was just not a subject we discussed. Of course, my story is influenced by the life experiences of my parents and their parents even though I may not be aware of how their journey has contributed to my journey.

For those of you with living parents or grandparents, maybe it’s time to start the conversation about some of their life experiences. Write them down while they are still accessible. Memories have a way of “evaporating” or getting distorted with time. You may learn about past events that have influenced who you are. These stories will become treasures to pass on to your children.

While I do a lot of writing, most of what I share are positive or thought provoking essays about everyday life. I don’t usually write about myself. The major exception has been the Harvard Business Review (HBR) article I wrote on resilience. I originally had intended to write a concept article on that subject but was asked by the HBR editors to write a first person article which they titled, “Realizing What You’re Made Of”. I’m glad I did.

My children know something about my professional life, pre-injury, but not much else. They, like most children, haven’t had an interest in learning about my family history. So you can understand how surprised I was when this past Christmas my daughter presented me with a subscription to StoryWorth. StoryWorth is a set of weekly question prompts that accumulate to form a memoir. At the end of a year my responses to the questions get bound into a hardcover book for my children and other interested family members. The beauty of StoryWorth is that the questions are chosen by my daughter and not what I think she would be interested in learning.

Yes, everyone has a story including you. Why not design and live the story you choose? It is never too late to be the person you were meant to be. I still believe that you are the hero of your own story (and it’s a great story)! But even if you don’t believe that right now, you can write the next chapter with you as the hero. As insignificant as you think you are, the world would not be the same without you.

Glenn Mangurian is a Hingham resident of 38 years. His recent book, Pushing the Edge of Thought, Possibility, and Action, is available on Amazon. He welcomes your comments and can be reached at gmangurian@comcast.net

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