Today is my sister's birthday, and as such I've been reflecting on the many gifts of siblinghood, and the peculiar magic of the people in your life who know you and your stories so thoroughly that it's generally impossible to pretend in their presence.
One of many things I greatly admire about my sister is her insatiable curiosity, which makes her both a fast learner AND unparalleled at making new friends.
As kids, we would go skiing for the weekend and by lunchtime on the first day there would be another tiny human sitting with us in the lodge, eating chili. "This is Zoe," Elizabeth would announce, her cheeks pink from the cold. "We met at ski school. She's going to sleep over next weekend."
Curiosity, I would argue, is also among the most underrated story skills that we have at our disposal.
Often we get SO in our heads, about which story to tell, how to tell it well, how to get people to see us this way and to act that way, etc -- and before we know it, we're experiencing huge anxiety around the prospect of having to actually talk to other human beings.
When in fact, if we would just get curious about the human being in front of us, we might find much of that anxiety melting away.
We might find the other person to be rather fascinating, or surprising, or beautiful.
We might even experience relief, for just a moment, at not being trapped in repetitive thoughts about ourselves all the time.
Because it's simply not possible to worry about ourselves, our problems and agendas and the image we are constantly trying to project to others, when we are deeply engaged in wonder about another human's experience, perspective, or essence.
Granted, it's not easy to suspend the endless loop of story in our heads, and actually make room for others to be discovered and witnessed...
But there is no faster or more effective way to make people feel seen, valued, and appreciated.
... Which, by the way, is the fastest and most effective way to get others to value and appreciate YOU -- because attention is so rare these days, and you were so generous with yours.
This week, if you find yourself getting in your head about whatever story you're presenting to others; I invite you to take a page straight from my sister's playbook, and try getting curious instead.