I recently ran across the words “social glue”. What I understood social glue to be is a way of bonding or connecting people through various actions and/or sharing commonalities. The first thing that I thought about was storytelling, and, in particular, the All Y’all Live Storytelling Events and Podcasts, that my friends Chris Jay and Sara Hebert produce. Chris and Sara are providing a safe space for people in the Shreveport-Bossier community to share experiences and situations through very personal storytelling. No scripts or notes . . . just get on stage in front of, oh, say a couple hundred people, and speak from the heart.
It never occurred to me that being a storytelling could be such a powerful glue that binds a community until I experienced myself. It was the night before the “Under the Influence” All Y’all event when I was contacted by Chris asking if I’d be willing to step in as a substitute for one of the storytellers. I had previously mentioned that I might be interested, and I had been thinking about the possibility but was by no means prepared to step in less than 24 hours before the scheduled event. What the heck? I said “yes”. I didn’t really know what I would say, nor if I would be able to say it. Chris said he’d call me back in a few hours to discuss the details. When he called me later, he apologized and basically said, “nevermind, it’s not fair to ask you on such short notice”. I knew in the moment that I had to do it. I agreed under the condition that I may chicken out at the last minute. That’s the great thing about Chris, whether he was fine with that, or not, he said something like, “don’t you worry, just give me a signal and we’ll keep on rolling with the show”.
The day of the event, I only told four people (two of which were my kids) that I would be speaking that night. I didn’t want the pressure of people giving me encouragement and then bailing on them. I have struggled my entire life with shyness and social anxiety and this was going to be a huge step for me, although, at the time, I had no idea how HUGE. I practiced all day, recording on my iPhone and realized that there was no way that I’d be able to go through with it. My voice was just not there. I worried that no one would even be able to hear me. I was making myself sick with anxiety. As I sat in the audience waiting for my turn, I wasn’t sure until that last second if I could do it, and then I stood up. I walked to the stage and I started telling my story. My voice was there. And soon, there were people nodding, and smiling, and laughing, and . . . bonding with me. The social glue began to flow.
But that was just the beginning. After the event, as I entered the lobby, the connections started to set in as each person who came up to me said things like “your story is my story”, “I have struggled with the same issue for years”, “You are so brave”. I then met Karen, who had been sitting in a middle seat near the front row, and had become my anchor for getting through the tough parts of my story. She helped me by giving me something to affix to in the audience. For the next few weeks, I’d be attending an event or walking through the grocery store and someone would stop me to say they had been at the All Y’all event and how much it meant to them. In addition, my life has been enhanced by the friendships I’ve built with other storytellers. Jennifer and Esther were the first two storytellers that I met and I can’t begin to tell you how they have influenced my life. (Jennifer was one of the four people I told that I was speaking that night, so there ya go.)
Below the surface, we are all struggling with something. By sharing (and listening to) stories, we can recognize ourselves in others and become connected through sameness. I have come to realize that Chris and Sara are not just providing social glue for our community, they are pouring social cement. Shreveport-Bossier is most definitely strengthened by All Y’all and the bonds being built are amazing.
To learn more about All Y’all:
That Just Happened!!
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes
This weekend, is the first ever, multi-night event at East Bank Theatre in Bossier City. “Momma,” an evening of stories about moms, motherhood and more, will be held on Friday, March 11, 2016. “Daddy,” featuring stories from, to and about fathers and fatherhood, will be held on Saturday, March 12, 2016. Unfortunately, Friday is sold out and Saturday only has a few more tickets. BUT WAIT!! I have a ticket for both nights to give away.
And, how do you WIN THE GIVEAWAY?
One lucky That Just Happened blog reader will receive a ticket from season sponsor Holiday Lanes to both Friday 3/11/16 and Saturday 3/12/16 events. Simply go to ALL Y’ALL BLOG, listen to a few of the podcasts, paste your favorite storyteller title in the comments section of this blog below. (It doesn’t have to be my podcast, but here is the link in case your want it: UNDER THE INFLUENCE: ROBIN WILLIAMS, “MR. BOURQUE”) . Winner will be announced on Friday, March 11, 2016 at around noon.
UPDATE 3/11/16: Congrats Pat Gill – you are the winner!