I am often asked in interviews, what is the book about? You may be able to answer that question: Oh, just some girl who cries too much at Lifetime movies! That is (sadly) 100% correct, but I also hope this story – in all its madness – reflects your story. My desire for you is to walk away from this book and know that your story is important. You are no mere coincidence or hiccup placed at random in the world. You were born in the right decade, at the right moment, for an extraordinary reason. As your life shifts and changes, you have the beauty of discovering the story of you. The story is wrapped up in humility and packaged to the community in order to inspire and offer hope to others who haven’t been able to find their own voice. That is why I wrote this book, and I hope that is why you share your story, too.
There is an important note to make about this idea of story. In order to keep the romance of it all at bay, I will say this: Your story will continue. For those who feel stuck and cannot imagine a day when it will be different – your story will continue. For those who believe you have arrived to the top of the mountain – your story will continue.
I remember sitting in the garage of Tommy’s house, a few weeks before we graduated from college. Tommy is a lover of knowledge. He is always in constant search of a good book and stimulating conversation. As we often shared our anxieties with each other, that night was no different when he began to question what post-grad life might look like for us.
“How do we learn after college?”
He raised a valid point. We had only known a world set up by an education system. We hadn’t experienced learning without homework or teachers since we sat on our living room floor with our parents coaching us on animal sounds. I didn’t answer in the moment and allowed space for the rhetorical comment to float around our heads for a bit. Throughout the last few days of school, I kept the question in the back of my mind. I thought about the first time I stepped onto my college campus as an eager transfer student with all the worldviews I had cultivated and a firm grip on everything I thought to be true. Then I walked across the stage, a completely different human being. What was the reason for the change? Sure, I took some great classes and found some great mentors. There were good books that I (sometimes) read for homework, and smart speakers who showed up for our weekly chapels. The real change, however, was listening to a world of stories saturated in hope.
To understand story is to understand a world beyond the four walls of an academic institution and embrace the adventure of other worlds, languages, and cultures. We must listen to the stories of others, and be brave to contribute our own. There is significance and power in the story of us. We learn to fight for those whose voices have gone numb from shouting so loud into an empty chasm. We’re humbled by those who are unlike us and have given so much to a world that never gives them anything in return. We embrace the ones that we do not understand, and we surrender to the love that has been built into the story of humanity.
One more thing I want to make sure you have sealed in the inner lining of your soul before you set this book on your shelf and it collects dust until your next garage sale: We are not alone. Slow down, take a deep breathe, and take a moment to think about the faces of those who have crossed your path over the course of your life. Remember the laughter, the tears, the late-night donut runs, the births, the deaths, the wedding receptions that you danced to “Come on Eileen,” the nights you forgot your medication, and the mornings that faith woke you up to, and remember – remember this forever – we are the story of humanity. We’re all just sort of running in the dark. (Did you see what I did there?)