“Tell Your Story” – Joshua Oyenigbehin
A man once narrated how he sponsored himself through the university. He said his parents couldn’t afford to send him to school. But his determination to succeed made him do jobs you would never imagine this cool man did to ensure that he leave the university with a certificate.
I love to listen to, read and watch the stories of others. I do this a lot because I believe that you can only become a good storyteller if you are a good story-listener. When I have the opportunity to listen to people’s stories, I do so with rapt attention. I love to read, listen to, watch stories about love, survival, hatred, failure, success, death, betrayal. I love to digest and experience, in my mind, all the shades of emotions these stories can imprint in me.
However, most people find it weird when I ask them to tell me about their life experience. Some feel they are too small to tell their own stories. They believe their lives and experiences are too inconsequential for anyone to listen to. Some folks feel that they need to be globally acknowledged before the world can listen to their stories. But the reality remains that a beggar, a man dying on his sickbed, that dry cleaner, the divorced single mother, that yahoo boy, they all have a story to tell. And these stories deserve to be heard. All stories matter.
Just like Busola Dakolo was able to tell the story of her alleged rape by a popular pastor, the story of that girl who has suffered rape at the hands of her uncle should also be told to the hearing of the world.
Our ability to tell our stories signifies our determination, not just to live, but to embrace and love the life that we have. Our life experiences are no doubt unique; nobody can experience your life, and nobody else can see life from your perspective. So your refusal to tell your story and relive your experience is more or less depriving the world of the diversity it deserves.
The best form of therapy is your ability to empty your mind. You will have more peace when you finally allow yourself to let go of the stories that you have bottled up all these years. You must share your fears, experiences, and failure with people who will see you not just for the mistake you have made in time past, but for the person you have now become.
Don’t be afraid of people’s judgement and condemnation. It is part of life. Tell your story, even if people doubt you.
Your experience of poverty, lack, assault, and other unpalatable experiences is for a reason. The reason for your experience is for people to learn. You will not realise how your narration can change a life. Somebody out there who is suffering from the psychological effects of rape, suicidal tendencies, and sicknesses may have their problem alleviated if only you are willing to tell your story of survival.
You story is special. You don’t have to be a good writer, public speaker, actor, filmmaker, producer, animator, vlogger, to tell your story. A simple post on your social media platform, a one-on-one discussion with somebody who is willing to listen, a family discussion, a gist with friends, and other opportunities to tell your story should be employed. The listener of your story might even be your diary.
There is a popular saying that there are a lot of dreams in the grave, as are many untold stories. The world is only a better place if we can learn, from each other, mistakes and experiences. Tell your story without apology. Let’s make it a point of duty to tell the world about our journey. Let’s seize all the opportunities we get to let the world know how special our experiences are.
For those who do not have a voice to tell their story, let those who are privileged to have a voice and a platform, help amplify these stories. Everybody should have a right to tell their stories. Let’s have an open mind to every human who musters the courage to tell their story.
This piece was written by Joshua Oyenigbehin and was first published by Bella Naija