Does your story need to be true? This is my answer: it needs to be true to yourself.
The French author Jules Renard once said that “as soon as the truth goes beyond five lines it is a novel.”
The problem with the truth is that once we think we’ve got it we want to endorse it to everybody. So our truth becomes everybody’s truth. And you know what it comes next.
Maybe, we should ask these honest question when we’re planning to tell a story:
- What is my angle in this story? What is her angle?
- What truth do I want to tell?
- What truth is hidden?
- What story is not told?
- What if I see this story through the eyes of a child?
We can know the facts, but facts don’t create meaning. The story does. Rather than wanting to tell the absolute truth of what happened, we can choose to ask ourselves: which truth am I connecting to when I tell this story?
I find integrity and honesty in this way of addressing the truth.
The same event can look different to different people. The best we can do to create connection and empathy is to make it very clear that our story portrays a truth – our truth. The truth about how a white middle-class woman experiences her corporate job or the truth about how a refugee experiences racism in her daily life.
When we approach telling stories with this kind of integrity, we can see that even the most opposite opinions might touch each other. Not to convince each other of our own truth but to connect through our own truth.
People don’t disagree because their worldviews aren’t similar enough but because they’re too low in empathy.
Truth, like forgiveness, is a process, and the most important part is how we are transformed by the quest.