Storytelling: A Catalyst for Self-Acceptance

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It was sink or swim, and storytelling was how I learned to swim. Dating sat atop my fear hierarchy like it does for many, but more so for me because of my stutter. 

Success at dating goes no further than first impressions, and in the age of swiping left or right—though before then as well—that means physical appearance. But, it’s actually how well you tell and sell your life story

There are two benefits to marketing your true story:

  1. It creates connection through vulnerability. 
  2. It aligns your identity with the complicated interplay of experiences, or, simply, it helps lead with self-acceptance. 

How did I use dating to craft my story (and overcome my fear)?

First, I used online dating, and, second, I went on many first dates over the span of a few months—though never intending to not ever get a second date. Unknowingly, these were the keys to success. 

On each date, I defaulted to my stuttering pitch, which is the short self-disclosure I say to others to explain my stutter and to elicit their compassion. Leading with the pitch repurposed it from a request to a reliable conversation starter. It allowed me to refine my defining stories of stuttering and begin to find meaning. 

When stories are told, others see YOU for the first time rather than your stuttering. 

My stuttering story became a secret weapon that drove the conversations on the first dates in what otherwise is an awkwardly high feared situation. Leading with stuttering instead of concealing it wasn’t part of a grand plan. Yet, in hindsight, the more I willingly shared my story the more freely I stuttered and showed who I was on the inside. 

I kept building up my storytelling capability after I gave up online dating by turning to writing to continue refining some of the stories. In the meantime, the risks I had taken with dating decreased my social anxiety and increased the surface area of luck which put me on the dance floor of a grungy bar to fatefully meet my now wife. 

What was the primary reason for how and why she became my wife?

My ability to tell the honest and vulnerable story of this is who I am

Telling the accurate story of my life both single-handedly started my pursuit of self-acceptance and made it possible to connect on such a deep level with her. In that way, storytelling became the unsung hero of my journey.

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