Life Narratives Personified

I recently came across a web article titled, “Life’s Stories.” This article briefly dives into the simple idea of just viewing a life as a linear story and elaborates on how a story isn’t simply what’s is written down, it is the manner in which it is written, structured, and why certain aspects of the text are more significant than others. Julie Beck, the author of this article, mentions that an individuals life is filled with multitudes of narratives. These narratives can be categorized to the individual between age frames, split by significant events, or simply representing different aspect of life, being work, school, home, etc. She breaks it up between forming narratives that are scattered or mixed up in childhood and how to the system of creating really picks up in a child as cognitive systems develop more, and she also delves into so many other ideas – it’s a long article!

So I wanted to zero in onto one brief comment she makes, and here is the idea: in everyday life we communicate with multiple people and especially while getting to know people, you commonly tell the same stories, or same narratives, if you will. Beck calls this repetition a “rehearsal.” She’s getting at the idea that every time to tell a story about yourself you are rehearsing it in your mind, solidifying the events to make them stronger in your mind, and creating another tie to how you are representing yourself to the listener. Now, in our ASTU class we’ve been talking a lot about validity of circulating life narratives and the alteration of stories for selected audiences, particularly about published work. I want to relate that discussion topic to this idea of rehearsing because Beck reflects that as you rehearse your own life narrative time and time again, it is common that the story, or memory, or whatnot will change depending on who you are talking to. This can be because you know how people have reacted to it in the past and will therefore alter the way that you tell it, or even that the conversation that proceeded that story may encourage you to have a new outlook and tell it according to that. I find this interesting that this is extremely accurate. I can personally think of times where I’ve listened to a friend’s story and then again later around others it had changed, and I’ sure that I have done the same, even subconsciously. But I’ve never considered this as  way to look at narratives. In our discussions, I always regarded it as if it’s outside sources that tweak a narrative, and that this is beyond the original source. For an example, I think about the telephone game where you whisper something in someone’s ear and they pass the message along to others. In this game, the message is commonly different from where it started. in what I will call the “rehearsal theory,” it is an internal modification of a story. to make a relating example of it, it’s as if you whisper something to yourself over and over until it changes to not only represent what you think the listener wants to hear, but also to represent new reflection that you’ve had about it. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but I would definitely like to take more time to think about this and notice patterns as I share with people my versions of my own narratives and listen to other peoples narratives.

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