This week rounds out the end of the “100 Days of Story Challenge.” At the beginning of the year, the Self Narrate team of Jaron, Carly and myself, decided to put out into the world the challenge to share your story in some way for 100 days straight. Our goal with this was to inspire others to share their stories after seeing us share ours, and connect all of these stories using a hashtag: #StoryYear. Ultimately our goal with Self Narrate is to get people sharing their stories, so we thought this would create a story-sharing space over the internet.
The prevailing sentiment was that this would be done through YouTube videos, recorded daily. Each day we would record a video where we share one story from our lives. Approximately once a week, the Self Narrate team would get together and record a team video where we check in and share more stories as a team. On January 1, we kicked it off with an announcement video, explaining our intentions.
Immediately after, the team went to work creating their individual YouTube channels.
We all felt inspired and got a lot out of sharing our stories. For me, I was excited to be able to commit to something. In my first video, I announced that I was starting a new personal story by starting a new exercise regimen and eating better. By putting it out into the world, I found myself creating a sense of accountability, even if nobody else ever saw these videos. You know what? It worked. Until I stepped on a rusty nail a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t put pressure on my foot, I actually exercised nearly every day, a habit I hadn’t been in for years.
It is liberating to share your stories! But we found that our idea to start a storytelling movement wasn’t catching on. People weren’t watching our videos but more importantly, nobody else was jumping in and sharing theirs.
I enjoyed sharing my stories as I think my teammates did, but we all hit a barrier where we started having a difficulty coming up with new stories to share. For Carly and Jaron that seemed to hit about two weeks in, and for me it was about four. We all sat down and talked about it here:
We decided around this time that although we won’t all be putting out 100 videos, one day at a time, we would use this 100 Days Of Story to think about how we can incorporate story in our lives in a more personal and private way. From what Jaron and Carly have told me, setting aside that space to be self-reflective each day has been transformative. For me, I decided to push through and record the full 100 videos, sharing a new story each day, even though I had run out of what I think of as my “go-to” stories.
Going through this process was challenging because there were many days when I just didn’t have anything that I wanted to share. I sat at my computer screen just blankly trying to come up with another story. This caused me to dig much deeper than I’ve ever forced myself to self-reflect. I went through old photographs and read through my old journals, finding stories that I had completely forgotten. Giving myself the space to re-live some of my past experiences taught me a great deal of self-empathy. I was very hard on myself in my old journals. I see now that I was confused and having a hard time dealing with situations in my life that were bigger than me, and I look back and can give myself grace. It was a very beautiful feeling.
In addition, there is the discipline element to putting something out there every day, even if it is just 2 minutes long. You have to force yourself to do it. And I did it. This project has shown me that I can really commit to a big project and push myself even when it’s hard...
… And there were times that it was hard because nobody watched these videos. Most of my videos have 1 view: from myself. I mean, to be fair, I can understand why, looking back at it from the finish line. I don’t think I would have watched these videos if I were someone else. I subscribe to some vlogs, but I don’t watch any of them every single day. But still, when you’re the creator, putting out your intimate stories each day and having nobody watch them feels discouraging. I wasn’t doing this for views, but that insipid little viewcount also gives this toxic feeling of validation. “You wanted to start a movement, well if nobody watches these videos, how can the movement ever happen?” I look forward to being done with the project so that I can stop judging myself by a view number.
I didn’t expect my feeling at the end of this challenge to be “phew, glad that’s over with” but here we are.
I learned something about storytelling in this project: don't push yourself. Your stories are important and they matter. You need to share them. But there is no need to share all of them. And share them when it feels right, not to tick a box on your daily to-do list.
Although the 100 Days Of Story Challenge didn’t exactly pan out like any of us expected it to, we still plan on trying new and different ways to spark the storytelling movement that inspired us to do this in the first place.
All of our videos are still live on our individual YouTube Channels. Here are playlists for Self Narrate’s videos and my personal videos