Recognize the power of finding a voice to tell your story.
I once met an amazing student at a conference where I was invited to speak. I was leading a session on resume writing, and I had introduced a formula that would help the students take some content they had brainstormed and transform it into strong, professional resume bullet points.
While the students were working independently, I circulated the room answering questions and looking for potential sticking points. One young lady came in near the end of the session, so I sat down to catch her up on all the content we’d learned.
She understood the formula and its purpose right away, and after looking at a sample resume, turned to me and said, “This is EXACTLY what I needed! I’m working on college applications, and I’ve been trying to get a resume ready for so long...but without any instructions it’s really intimidating to make one from scratch.”
(She’s right! I definitely recommend checking out plenty of sample resumes if you're not comfortable writing one on your own.)
I asked her about her college application process, and we spoke about how that was going and what essays she was writing. She immediately gave me the example of her weirdest essay prompt: Write about your three favorite words in the English language.
We both laughed about how strange that prompt was, but then she told me her three words:
Whimsical, simplicity, peace
I was floored. Here was a young girl about to graduate, with English as her second language and plenty of reasons to be nervous about the college application process.
Still, she was still brave enough to respond to this prompt on a personal level, without fear of judgment.
I want you to notice here what she DIDN’T do:
She didn’t pick three words she thought the application committee would want to hear (driven, resilient, committed)
She didn’t pick three words she thought would make her look good on paper (courageous, brilliant, magnificent)
She didn't pick three "fancy" words just to show off her vocabulary knowledge (magnanimous, ebullient, supercilious)
Think for a second about how many essays exactly like these the application committee will probably have to read!!
Instead, this young woman did just what was asked of her. She forgot about the subtext of fear that permeates the entire application process, and grabbed the chance to tell her story from a unique point of view—one that will stand out in a crowd for all the right reasons.
I wish every adult had such courage in writing! I’m willing to bet the essay she wrote based on those words turned out phenomenal, because she wrote it from the heart without regard for fear.
What could happen if you take the chance to tell your story?
When you actually care about the words you’re putting on paper, and you embrace the courage that comes from being willing to express yourself, it’s amazing what you can do!
Trust that you have a valuable message to share, and don't be afraid to share it!
So what would your three favorite words be? I'm genuinely curious...let me know in the comments!
What does this choice of words say about your mindset, your strengths, and what you might need to overcome?
If you need help overcoming a fear of putting your content out there, let me know! Encouraging clients to tell their stories is one of my favorite things about being a writing coach, and I believe every writer should have the tools to make sure their story is heard. Find your voice!