Sometimes normal prose can’t convey the kind of emotion that poetry can so I decided to make this post a bit experimental in nature. After binging every episode of Black Mirror over winter break, I began thinking about how my relationship with digital technology is quite paradoxical. The more stories I see on screen-the more characters on Netflix that I grow to care about or the more Facebook friends I gather- the more I am consumed with the lives of others. Yet, if so much of my life is peering into the lives of others, what does that tell me about my own?
As college students, we are the millennial generation who have become engrossed with digital technology during adolescence-a very fragile state of development that shapes so many behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs that stick with us for the rest of our lives. So, it is important for us to be cognizant of our own human embodiment in a world where our stories are succumbing to the stories of others.
And college is the perfect time to construct your own narrative if you are willing to let go of competing and numbing storylines that might get in your way. Back to the poem.
What is my story? My story?
My story has been hijacked by the stories of others. My traveling friends. Those who confide in me. I am a wallflower-soaking up the patterns of those around me in a myriad of empathy.
But if I close my eyes and let the outside characters of my life fade away, what is my story?
My own independent story.
No, not what can be found on a screen-not a smiling face or a distant memory…but me… In the darkness, I ponder. I search for it: an intangible, unassuming story that is part of who I am. It’s in my soul, or it should be. But I can’t find it…
I am sprouting without a story of my own, constantly tracing my own steps, becoming bigger and smaller at the same time.
I am devoid of my own story. I am lost in the stories of others. The days fade in and out like a blur. Why am I here? Who am I but a collector of stories?
Time will stand still until I turn the hands myself. Plant my own seeds. Build my own garden. Walk my own earth.
Only then will I have a story of me-a flower without a wall.
Sometimes, it’s a balancing act trying to write your own story, while also gathering the stories of others. After all, listening to other stories can positively shape your own and make you a more empathetic person. The takeaway is to learn how to weed through the ever-growing, digital garden of tempting stories and be selective about which ones to consume so that it doesn’t consume your own in the process.