I GUESS I have always been a storyteller. Even as a child, I loved listening to my family talk about the ‘old days’ and then I’d retell those stories with my own twists and emphasis. In the South, storytelling is a part of family bonding. So, while it was not the initial plan, it is no surprise that I ended up telling stories for a living.
When I think about all of the stories I have told, I am reminded of the amazing people I have met over the years; like the 78-year-old bodybuilder with an incredible smile and passion for life; or the iconic African-American model, lifestyle maven, and entrepreneur who refuses to let Alzheimer’s stop her from living her full life. These women so inspire me that it’s been an honor to tell their stories.
Then, of course, the stories that I will never forget, because every now and then, an incredible loss reminds me of how blessed I am. For example, the mother whose daughter and granddaughter were found dead (and burned) in the trunk of a car, or the family where practically all the women were diagnosed with breast cancer; these stories stay with me.
There is also a personal story I apparently made up, unintentionally of course. As a young child, and until just a couple of years ago, I believed I spent time in London visiting my uncle and his family. Occasionally, I shared this with others. Imagine my surprise when I talked about it in front of my mother who politely told me it never happened. “What? Of course it did.” “No, they came here and visited us,” she said. Wow, I loved that story; too bad it was not MY story. I am sure Dr. Ben Carson feels my pain, but since I’m part of the media, I won’t blame my fictional account on the media.
As a journalist, telling the stories of ordinary people gives me a sense of purpose and duty. I think we are better citizens when we hear and internalize each other’s stories, for good or bad. And after all these years, I still can’t get enough of the stories about my family and all its colorful characters, past and present.
Whether as a profession or for fun, we have to make sure storytelling remains a vital part of our very existence. I will continue to do my part, because telling your story becomes MY STORY.
Hear Sabrina’s 2015 interview with Sandi Klein here.