Can we learn more about ourselves by looking at the stories told by others?
Do you remember the stories from when you were a kid? Or some of the sayings that your parents and grandparents used when you did something bad? I don’t remember all of them, but I still remember some that have stuck with me from then. I noticed that some of those stories and sayings have a message that try to guide us, and to confirm that I’m not the only person with that idea, I asked people around my workplace about any stories and sayings that they remember and what messages they picked up from those stories. After listening to what the people I interviewed had to say about the stories and their messages, I decided that stories are a fundamental part of growing up. This blog will discuss the potential effects that stories have on us while growing up.
Stories Are Teachings
From the “cavemen era” (aka Paleolithic Era) all the way to modern society, a way people impart knowledge to others is through sound. Knowledge has been passed down by word of mouth to audibles in the modern age — lectures that teachers give and books people write down are forms of imparting experiences and knowledge to others. Stories are the primitive form of lectures; they are teachings presenting you with a scenario and how a conflict in the story is solved or what could have solved the problem. Stories passed down in families by word of mouth also have a moral at the end of the story, and some of them will be something that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
From Kids to Adolescents
As most kids are energetic and active throughout the day, some parents read stories to their kids at night to calm them down and give them an environment where they can fall asleep and rest. Even though kids like to listen to the stories their parents read to them, the message of the story is usually lost throughout time as they grow up. The majority of children who listen to bedtime stories will forget about the stories once they reach adolescence. But some sayings will stick with us for a long time, some of them being: “The early bird gets the worm,” “No pain, no gain,” and “ If you play with fire, you will get burned.” Small sayings that are straight to the point get remembered for a longer time as they are told at the moment where they might resonate deeper with us.
Understanding the Message
There are times when the message feels specific to certain situations. After some time, if the message is no longer applicable to us, most people tend to forget the meaning behind the sayings and stories. We are meant to learn from the message that the story or saying is trying to convey; that is to say, they are a guide that we can follow to prevent certain situations or a way to learn from our mistakes. In an ideal world, we should avoid making the same mistakes, but most people commit some of the same mistakes over and over again. “Once a mistake, twice a decision,” like the message from this saying specifies, if we continue making the same mistakes, it's our fault. Most people keep the saying in their head, but they do not reflect on their past actions which causes the repetition of the same mistake.
The Journey, Not the Destination
When we remember stories, we remember the morals or messages that they teach, but did you know that there are hidden teachings we might miss? Depending on the story, the setting could be well described or could have small details on the environment but more focused on the actions of the protagonist. The details presented in the story will help us get more information for a deeper understanding, which is where we miss the teachings it tries to convey. A story I heard from one interview with a Japanese student describes a boy who raised butterflies with his friend. In the story, the child did not like butterflies so he got rid of them. When his friend found out what the boy had done, he got mad at the boy. The moral of the story is that not everything you dislike means everyone dislikes it. If we decided to break down the story further, one way could be for the boy to discuss with his friend the dislike of the butterflies and another way could be for the boy to find someone else to take his place. By breaking down a story and looking at the deeper meaning behind it, we might be able to react better in similar situations. “Experimenta en cabeza ajena” is a saying that means that you should “learn from someone’s mistake,” and that is how we should view stories. We should learn from the mistakes that the characters in the story make, not just the moral of the overall story.
Enjoy Writing Your Story
We need to learn from everything that comes in our lives, whether it be friends, family, school, or even our own mistakes. It is nice if we can welcome everything that happens around us and think of a way to have memorable experiences because we will be able to create stories from those experiences which we can then use to teach future generations. These are my suggestions as this is my last blog: make all the mistakes you can, but learn from those mistakes and don’t repeat them. Have as much fun as you want, but limit yourself to the boundaries that you have. Create as many social circles as you can, but only hang out with the people you feel comfortable hanging around. Make your life feel like a story that you can enjoy, and when the time comes, share your story with your kids to learn from. Teach your kids what they should do to enjoy life as much as you did, and encourage them to do what they love because they will not only pass down your stories, but create their own too. Your story is what you want to make it to be, so why not let it be a great story that will be passed down from generation to generation just like the stories that have stayed with you until today? This is my last message to you: Don’t let others pull you down, and don’t pull yourself down either, as a sad story doesn’t allow you to improve but limits your horizons instead. Go out and make a story for yourself as you are the one with the power to change your life.
|Ayavitl Acalli Gonzalez Navarro, who goes by Acalli, was born in Mexico and moved with his family to Singapore when he was 12. He is currently a student and International Peer Mentor at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada.|
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