This is the third in a three part series, in celebration of Personal History Awareness month.
Throughout this month, I’ve talked about the importance of recording life stories before it’s too late, and how to start the process of recording those stories with your loved ones. Now, let’s get real – here are a few of the misconceptions around personal history, and the truths based on my experience.
Myth: Personal History clients are only elderly people.
Reality: In my experience, the “personal history client” is everyone. 75% of my clients are between the ages of 35 – 55 years old, and 60% are couples.
Certainly, personal history is an important piece in creating a legacy as we get older. But my clients also recognize the value of recording their memories at all stages in life – as an opportunity for personal reflection, to reconnect with their partner, or to celebrate an important milestone.
I have one client who is in his late thirties, in the middle of his career. He has established a very successful business, and is using the process of recording his stories as a means to reflect on how far he has come and to sharpen his goals for the future. And I have several clients who are celebrating relatively young anniversaries – rather than waiting ‘til the 25th or 50th anniversary, they are honoring a 5 year, a 7 year, and a 10 year anniversary. Two of the couples have young children, and they wanted a chance to reconnect amidst the mayhem of raising kids, to record their love story while it is still fresh in their minds. The third couple never had the chance to make a wedding album, and is now combining the beautiful photos from their wedding into a book filled with their stories.
Myth: Personal History is only for people who have lived a remarkable life. “I don’t have anything interesting to say.”
Reality: First of all, everyone has lived a remarkable life! Your experiences and your perspectives are unique, and you are the only one who can tell your stories. So many clients begin our interview telling me, “oh, this will be short, I don’t have much to say.” Each time, two hours passes in a blink, and each time I am mesmerized by their stories. Best of all, that client recognizes that yes, he or she has plenty to say and their life experiences are indeed remarkable.
Myth: Certain types of people may be reluctant to open up and share feelings.
Reality: Many of my clients come to me through gifts from their family and friends – a husband wanting to celebrate his wife’s 50th birthday, a bridesmaids wanting to celebrate their best friend’s wedding, a company wanting to commemorate their leader’s retirement. And often during our initial conversation, the gift-giver expresses concern that the recipient may not want to be “interviewed” or to share personal memories. They tell me, “my friend is a one-word-answer kind of guy,” or “my wife is a very private person.”
Those people are genuinely touched that you have honored them with a gift that tells them, “I love you, I want to hear your stories, and share your life experiences.” By giving them this gift, you are giving them permission to feel comfortable sharing stories that they may have been keeping to themselves and to celebrate their life and love.
My clients have taught me that the experience of recording and sharing life stories and love stories is universally empowering, restorative, and fun!