Admit it. You think that writing a life story is something reserved for grandmas and grandpas after they’re retired and have lived very long lives. I’m right, aren’t I? Isn’t that what you’ve always thought?
Well, I’m here to tell you that that old stereotype is just that – an old stereotype. Writing a personal history isn’t just for grandparents anymore!
But why? Why now? Why should you, a busy younger person juggling jobs, family, volunteer work, and other pressures want to write your history now? After all, you have a long life ahead of you with a retirement just replete with time for writing. Maybe not early retirement, but at some point. When you’re in that ambiguous category of “older”.
The truth is, however, that starting your history young is a brilliant way to go about it. Think about it: when are you most likely to remember the events, people, and stories of your childhood – when you’re younger like today or decades from now? I’m waiting for the answer. Of course the answer is today, now.
But the paradox of being young enough to have the energy to do whatever you want to do is that you are too busy to do whatever you want to do. Writing your history is just one too many things to add to your already busy plate. Or so you think.
What if we offered a system where you could fill in stories when you had time? What if the questions were laid out there for you and you just wrote when you could? Then after you caught up to the present time you could just add your annual holiday letter or write a brief annual recap and put it in the same computer file as what you had previously written? Just add a few pictures and maybe even a video every now and then and voila! you have a finished history whenever you need or want it.
Why now? Because the present is the only time we can be guaranteed the ability to do so. I can give numerous examples of people who wrote their stories while they were young and had grateful families as their loved ones descended into dementia or Alzheimers, had life-altering experiences that prohibited them from remembering or speaking or writing, or even passed away younger than expected. I can share even more stories of those who regret not having the stories of parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles due to procrastination and then losing that person for the same reasons listed above.
Let me give you one quick example. I’ll call her Karen. She was a gifted pianist and accompanied various celebrities and professional choirs. Her husband was a confidante of Howard Hughes – close enough that Hughes paid for their wedding. She was an influential figure in education unions and a popular music teacher for decades. She had trials and struggles that could have destroyed her, and yet she persevered and rose above. And there is no written history of her life. None. Her friends and children have a few stories, but that is it. For the past decade or so she has suffered from the ravaging effects of Alzheimers. Those stories will never get recorded. What a great loss.
It can’t be reiterated enough: one of the greatest gifts you can give loved ones, be they children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, siblings, or other loved ones, is the the legacy of your story. You have touched them and influenced them. Let that influence continue with the stories of what made you who you are. They will thank you forever for that.
Start now. Don’t put it off until you’re older. It’s easy and it’s rewarding. Why now? Because that’s the time you have!