I’ve got a secret.
I’m working on something really big right now–my next major performance. Guess it’s not all that much of a secret now, huh?
When I founded StoryMuse, I fell quickly into amazing opportunities to coach stories. I’ve burned up and down the highway, and now, all over the digital airwaves, helping people discover and craft their stories. But me? I could rarely be found on stage. Work kept coming, and it often left me exhausted, unable to focus on my own performance.
Thing is, I’ve been telling myself a story about what that means. Like maybe I was a better story coach than I am at being an actual storyteller? I think I was secretly very scared about what it would mean if I staked my professional career on this new trajectory and then discovered I wasn’t very good at it.
A couple of years ago, when we were making Hidden Voices, I sat around a table with my colleagues at San Francisco Coffee on a hot summer afternoon. We were grappling with how to introduce the episode about Employment. Many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are pigeon-holed into jobs like grocery bagger or movie ticket taker because that’s all we assume they are capable of. We don’t ask them what their passion is or if they’d like to start their own business. We think it’s great that they are working alongside neurotypicals, but what we don’t always see is that they are sometimes ostracized from their co-workers.
Somewhere in the middle of that discussion, I was hyperlinked back in time to this moment in my early twenties when I had yet another temp job, sitting in the lobby of an insurance company. I was subbing in for the receptionist who was on vacation. On the final day, I listened to the staff upstairs as they enjoyed their holiday party while I sat and looked out the window, watching ice pile up on my car. As I wondered how I would ever be able to drive the three hours home for Christmas in those conditions, it was one of the most profoundly lonely and lost moments in my life.
This spring, I’m in virtual residence at Virginia Tech. So many stories from that time of my life come from when I lived in Blacksburg, so they have just continued to bubble up for me. I can see the arc as I struggled and wandered through my post-college era. And so, I’m ready to talk a little less secretly about…
I’m a Little Teapot:
Existential Angst & the Search for Purpose at the Dawn of the Millennium.
One thing I know for sure is that this show will be highly interactive. I don’t think this is simply about my journey, but our collective reckoning with purpose as we dig our way out of the pandemic, a time that is eerily familiar to twenty years ago when global freakout over Y2K and a presidential impeachment were in the background of everyday people trying to just get by.
Please consider writing back to me. I’d like to hear about
- what you wanted to be when you grew up and where you landed,
- the strangest job you ever had,
- something you learned that was completely unexpected along the way.
May you have a purpose-filled week…
P.S. Why all the references to the childhood song, “I’m a Little Teapot?” Well, actually, the only time I ever got fired was because of it. Guess you’ll have to see the show.