other people’s stories
I’ve been struggling with this concept as of late. Telling other people’s stories.
Professionally speaking, as a trained journalist and avid writer, this may seem like an odd concept to struggle with, but it’s one that has a habit of reoccurring while I’m travelling.
The start of this week has been a hectic one: the first day at work, familiarizing myself with what will soon be an established routine, continuing to find comfort and ease in unfamiliar settings, signing the lease for my apartment 15 minutes from work.
During the most stressful moments, the length of eight months is daunting. There are times I feel as though I’ve been here for ages already, a seamless stitch in the backdrop and then an inconsequential mistake – a trip against the uneven ground, a misunderstood language or cultural barrier, a misstep into the depths of traffic – all of these things are abrupt reminders that I am still new, still adapting and will most likely still be new, still be adapting when it is time to leave.
There are a variety of reasons I’m cataloguing my thoughts here and none of them are immensely profound. None seem of great note.
I’ve realized though, while I can catalogue my thoughts with the indescribable ease of someone who naturally enjoys writing, I face endless difficulty in writing of the people I meet.
And they are people of note. Far more of note than my trivial observations.
Perhaps, my problem is not how to tell these stories (I’m sure any and all of my journalism professors would breathe a deep sigh of relief at this assurance), it is how can I? These stories, which are not isolated in loss or poverty or despair, they do not contribute to a “single-story“, but contain an immeasurable amount of hope, a silver beacon of kindness and wealth far more valuable than any currency you can hold.
The story of Vivian, my gracious land lady who speaks of the work she does, the love she has for her country and her desire for young girls to find a safe haven in times of distress – those are the stories that should be told.
I have resolved that as a journalist, talking of others, of their tales, of their defeats and their triumphs, isn’t about me telling their story. It isn’t about me at all. There are infinite negative connotations with the word journalist, many that I have become well-acquainted with and have even thought myself at times. Ultimately, though, journalism is story telling, which just about anybody with a story to tell can do. It’s about sharing and learning and writing and with that in mind I will, with the permission of those I meet, find a way to share their stories on this, here, under the name: 7 billion strangers.
After all, there are currently 7,171,859,435 people in this world at this very moment. And most of us are just strangers.