People’s faces light up when they hear about the personal history process. But then sometimes they feel doubt. Here are some common concerns expressed by potential clients, along with the answers I might offer:
“I’m only 65. I still have a lot of living to do — I hope! Maybe I’ll write a personal history in twenty years.” (Writing your story up until now doesn’t mean you’re in the final chapter, and in twenty years you might not remember the details as well as you do today. We can always do an update later! Take your cue from actress Jane Fonda, who titled her memoir, published when she was 69, “My Life So Far.”)
“I haven’t had a very interesting life – I don’t know what stories I would tell.” (You’d be surprised! Everyone’s life is interesting and deserves to be remembered. Sometimes clients who insist they have nothing to tell end up being the most interesting subjects. I once interviewed a rather formal, reserved minister, who eventually related to me how he, as a college student in the 1920s, had swallowed a live goldfish on a dare, to impress a girl!)
“What I’d really like is to get my mom’s life story, but she never wants to talk about herself.” (The gift of personal history is a touching and meaningful one; the recipient is usually flattered that someone wants to hear his or her story. And talking to a stranger about subjects like life choices and feelings is generally easier than talking to a family member who may be more emotionally involved. Clients open up in surprising ways to a good personal historian and enjoy the process more than they thought they would.)
If you’re interested in the idea of personal history but you aren’t sure it’s for you (or a family member or friend), email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (859) 321-6176. We can make a coffee date and talk it through, free of charge, of course. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.