I had the privilege of sitting in as a listener at a creative writing workshop that the non-profit group I collaborate with organizes. The instructor is a young, vibrant and wise-beyond-his-years writer. He has a way with the group he is workshopping, engaging them lovingly into a creative warm-up exercise. The group is made up of young adults that have outgrown foster care, but that are not legal adults yet. They shared very personal stories of tough childhoods, difficult relationships and where they are at in this moment of their lives. In the warm-up, the participants had to speak of themselves as characters in a story with their own stories as the basis. These stories were moving. What I found curious is that every single "character" was insecure in spite of an outside appearance of toughness. Every single one also needed to be heard and approved of.
This is a common thread that runs through us. We want to be appreciated and we want to be understood even when we pretend we don't, even when go about with our tough attitudes. And, though we all pine for the same, it is the one thing we withhold from each other, the kindness to listen, to understand, to acknowledge that we too want validation for who we are, for what we have been through, for what we can do.
Until we reach that level of awareness in which we already find our worth within, we should lower our guards and see, accept and empathize with each other as we travel our paths. Each of us is the main character in our lives. We interact with all sorts of characters who play the leading role in their own lives. And so, not one character is more important than the other. Each is complex, and beautiful, and deep. Each has the same need for compassion, sympathy, recognition and love. And each needs accompanying characters to complete the story. Let us be those companions and in so, beautify and strengthen the story of our own lives.
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