Updated: Aug 23
I have always been someone that keeps my own counsel. There are very few people in life that I have entrusted with my innermost thoughts and feelings. And unfortunately, life has proved me right that not everyone is to be trusted with your deepest feelings nor are they to be relied on as people that will protect your heart.
But what I have realised is that if you speak less, prefer to be a private person and like to keep your own counsel, someone is going to fill in the blanks. 'Nature abhors a vacuum' is true in this case, just as in so many others. When you say not much at all about yourself or your life, especially if you are in any way in the public eye, someone will fill in the blanks of your narrative. What you don't say, they will assume, what you say unclearly, they will paraphrase or rephrase, what you do and the actions you take, they will see fit to explain, mansplain or mis-explain! If you don't have a narrative, if you don't claim your own narrative, then someone else will happily take it from you and run amok with it.
Sadly, as so many of us have seen lately with the sad events happening with Britney Spears, it is not always straightforward to claim your narrative. Sometimes even successful, attractive and well-liked people, don't want to speak about what is happening in their life, especially if it relates to exploitation or abuse, which a lot of the time the victim feels embarrassed about. Sometimes they are in denial and don't want to confront how much things have gotten out of control. As Britney said herself, she was too embarrassed to speak her truth. The extent to which other people were controlling her life and the extent to which it had gotten out of control was humiliating. Everyone has an ego and sometimes it's hard to face up to certain things and easier not to say anything.
And so we let other people tell our story and we give the power away for speaking up for ourselves and relaying the truth of our own narrative. When Britney finally spoke up and apologised to her fans that she had lied about everything being fine, no one blamed her, because we can acknowledge that it would have taken her a phenomenal amount of courage to speak up and admit how bad things really were. Everyone was ready to support her and it's good to see so many people rooting for her.
These days, with so much of our lives open and transparent and ready to be dissected by people that barely know us, it becomes more important than ever to reclaim and relay our own narrative. I believe for the most part that we shouldn't become obsessed with what people are saying about us (read my post 'Cheap Seats') but, at the same time, no one has the right to tell our story, our version of the truth, or claim they know the truth about us, apart from us. You are the horse's mouth, so as to speak, the ultimate source, and as any good reporter knows, unless you have a credible, creditable and reliable source, there is no story worthy of printing.
Everyone has different preferences on how much visibility and openness they are comfortable with and the extent to which they are willing to share the private parts of their life and no one has the right to extract information or fabricate lies and spread it around without your permission. Sadly, there are people like that around, and they rely on your silence, your character which they know prefers to rise above rather than fight with fire, and your basic human decency, to sell their version of your narrative to the highest bidder, unless you are willing to step up and reclaim it.
My message to people today that are staying silent, that have realised they have given far too much of their power away to exploitative people to tell their story, who have let things go on for too long, is to say something. It doesn't have to be much but say something enough to set the record straight and to once again be the source of your own story, which is truly the only source that matters. Only people that are intent on printing fake news will ignore the actual source and those people inevitably get exposed. Reclaim your narrative, take your power back and then keep it moving.
Your thoughts? Have you ever been the victim of a false narrative? What did you do?