Your story is important.
It wasn't an ordinary afternoon.
We didn't return to the dorm after a day of class to begin working on the pile of homework, papers and projects we had recently been assigned.
Instead we grabbed a camera, a notebook and a colorful set of markers and hopped in the car.
We didn't know where we'd go at first, but once we got on the road we decided the Nashville Farmers' Market and Bicentennial Mall would be a nice spot.
Recently, my good friend Becca Risley decided she wanted to make a video telling others' stories using a unique approach. So we set out to a busy, public area and Becca asked complete strangers just one question.
"What is something in your life that you've had to overcome and how did you overcome it?"
But here's the catch: these people didn't have to share their life stories with us, ramble about their troubles or feel ashamed of their current challenges.
All that Becca asked each person to do was simply write whatever it is they had to overcome on the first page in the notebook, then turn the page to write the outcome or whatever helped them overcome the situation.
It was a lovely, transparent way to hear and share the stories of others, and I was so thrilled to be a part of it by filming the interactions.
We talked to around 30 people total, but just a handful ended up wanting to be a part of the film. Out of the nine featured in the video, I learned that everyone has an important story to tell.
This woman has such a story of hope, patience and peace. Her and her husband were two of the first few people we ran in to.
They shared their story of several miscarriages early on in their marriage. They went through a very difficult time, but eventually had a healthy, happy son. She said that in the beginning her son had some difficulties. But with a big grin on her face and joy in her eyes, this kind woman shared that her son is doing very well now, as a young, working adult.
As hours passed by, Becca and I continued in a circle searching for people to talk with. We came up to a very fun, goofy couple.
The man we met said one of his greatest fears is failing. But with the flip of a page, he smiled and reminded himself to take one breath at a time. He encouraged others to do the same.
The girl who was with him shared that she had been through a divorce. But as she looked at him, she smiled and wrote the words "found true happiness."
What I loved most about my afternoon with Becca and several random Nashvillians was the peace these people had. These complete strangers opened up to us and shared little bits of their stories. As each of them took pen to paper, there was a sense of comfort in what is and hope in what's to come.
Don't be afraid to share your story. Ever. It matters. It is beautiful.
When we commit to listen to and understand one another -- whether it be through a divorce, miscarriage, depression -- we commit to making a better world.
Now check out the video, written, edited and produced by Becca Risley and filmed by yours truly.
In a way, Becca had to overcome the fear of walking up to complete strangers. I also had to overcome this same obstacle, especially being the one with a camera in hand. But we learned that people are nice and usually want to see a friendly face and have a kind conversation.
What is something in your life that you've had to overcome and how did you overcome it?