What is an Origin Story?
Maybe it conjures thoughts of childhood.
Adorable anecdotes from early life.
Or perhaps it triggers disappointment, challenge, or even trauma.
At Unleash Your Inner Author we see the Origin Story as more of a lightning strike or tectonic shift.
One moment you are in familiar territory, this side of an experience. The next moment, life seems irrevocably different. The Origin Story is a turning point in your life. A moment where a new realization dawned and your life began anew.
There are as many types of origin stories as there are people to tell them.
The catalyst that changes one’s life, whether it occurs quickly or over time, reveals an understanding we carry for a lifetime. Recognizing, exploring, and ultimately sharing the story can be beneficial not only for the storyteller but also for the listener or reader.
These stories are often transformational. They are the tales of growth and evolution that carry us all forward as a human tribe.
Imagine you are part of a family, bonded and connected, sitting around a firepit in the backyard. It’s fall and there is a waxing moon in the dark night sky. Your grandmother begins to share the story of her arranged marriage to a formerly unknown man (your grandfather) 20 years her senior. What? This story is brand new to you. Your feelings are kaleidoscopic. You’re enthralled, curious, maybe a little uncomfortable.
She describes leaving her beloved familial home and traveling to the United States, the home of her new husband. There she meets her mother-in-law, along with his aunts, uncles and cousins. This is her new family. She explains that although it was commonplace to marry this way, and that she was amenable, she was only 16. She shares her fears and her sadness.
Next, she tells of the new life she forged, cooking, cleaning, falling pregnant at 17. And as she tells of a life so radically different from your own, you can’t help imagining what she went through, how it must have felt to be alone and yet surrounded by strangers.
The next day you find yourself returning to the story in your mind, reliving the events as if they happened to you. The story makes you think, causes you to question and reevaluate. These are all qualities of a good story, wouldn’t you agree?
Three Dynamics of your Origin Story
1. Life Before
We rarely anticipate changes that shift our lives. Life before is characterized as whatever your everyday experience was prior to the turning point. For the grandmother, this was life in her childhood home and country. As was the custom, she looked forward to marriage, though she could not fully anticipate the feelings and the challenges she would face.
2. The Turning Point
The turning point can be an event, a realization, a traumatic experience, a mindset shift, a loss or a gain. Grandmother’s turning point was traveling to the home of her new husband. The life she had known, only a memory.
3. Promised Land:
The silver lining that follows a turning point isn’t always obvious. Sometimes it is not apparent for many years. The turning point is a significant shift. The aftermath of perception, conclusion, and belief shapes your new landscape. In our story, marriage transforms grandmother. She must adopt an entirely new life all at once. No telling what circumstances she experienced as she found her footing in a new environment with new people and customs and as she assimilated an unfamiliar identity. In the story, the family sitting together attentively listening is part of the silver lining.
The Power of the Origin Story
Your experience is unique, even as it is collective. For example, one’s divorce is specific, acute, and personal, yet many people experience divorce.
This is the power of the Origin Story. One person’s experience of an event will vastly differ from another, even within a family. We recognize transformation as the necessity it is. We have a kind of evolutional hunger built into our DNA. Even as we resist change, we walk out into the next moment, secretly checking the periphery for its presence.
Discovering your Origin Story and the power and promise it holds is exciting. It comes as a surprise. There may be stories you’ve never told, maybe to honor your families’ privacy, then one day, BOOM. You share the story and are left in awe realizing the impact. It changed the landscape of your life and you never made the connection. Never noticed its powerful relevance.
Interested in Your Origin Story?
Ask yourself these questions:
What catalyst (person, place or event) stands out in your life?
- Notice the thoughts that arise from that experience.
- Are they characterized by a sense of before and after? Your life may feel divided by the experience.
What was the importance of that experience?
- How has it affected your life?
- It could be a shining moment, or maybe a sort of pall hanging over your life for a time. Either way, the impact provided something to consider.
Having now identified this turning point.
- What opportunities or potentialities does it bring?
- Can you imagine more change if you embraced the value?
Dig in, take the opportunity to think about this, act on it. See for yourself what a big wake-up this story can be in your life. If the idea interests you, learn more here.