I had a vulnerable conversation with my friend the other day about what it means to own their story. This friend’s been through a lot. So much more than I could ever understand.
We’re both Asian, and as Asians we all share a visceral reaction to the idea of “saving face.” Face has to do with dignity, identity, and family legacy. Saving face is the never ending work of avoiding shame.
If anything about our story could be shameful, our first reaction is to disown it. Hide it. Don’t ever talk about it. Shame is a debt and so we have to hustle to make up for the deficit.
Save face. Save face. It’s all that matters.
So the idea of owning our story is as foreign to us as when our parents first set foot on American soil. No one modeled for us what that looks like.
Our conversation ended with genuine frustration in knowing this was the right thing to do, not knowing how to move forward.
Since our friendship started over topics like personal knowledge management, Roam Research, and writing, I said owning your story is like reading a dense and difficult book. There’s thousands of pages you have to get through and understand. It’ll be painstaking, but you’re not reading alone.
You’re actually in a book club, the best book club in the world, and we’ll get through it together.