I currently live in Brooklyn with my three little boys and husband. What can I say, I’m the unofficial -but official - Queen in my house. I love weird combinations of food (more on that later), going out (MOMS CAN DANCE TOO), and seeing the "A-HA" look on a founder's face when they unleash the story that has been buried in them and their business for way too long.
My biological dad left my family when I was 5 years old.
I promise I’m not sending you down my personal Lifetime Movie path. I have a point so please bear with me.
It’s something I didn’t think about often but as I get older and continue to do the storytelling work I do, I find myself thinking about my childhood a lot.
It’s really uncomfortable to reflect on.
Me with my biological dad and my (didn’t know it at the time half-sister in the stroller)
I tell all my clients and students that in order to connect to our audiences from the most authentic and pure place, it usually begins with us connecting the dots in our own life.
One of the first exercises I have my storytelling students do is a literal Life Map. Only when you write stuff down can you begin to see the subterranean meanings in all that you do (and if this sounds like therapy, it’s because it is).
But this work is always the hardest….when you do it for yourself.
I never did see my biological dad again in my life, but I found out in my 20s he had another daughter that was basically the same age as me. (she’s in the stroller)
When I met her it was one of the most emotional moments of my life. I actually initially rejected her for years but that’s for another story.
She gave me a giant box.
A box filled with photos, paintings of me?! And other memories that were up in her home and his mom’s home. She told me they sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me every May 21st. My painting on a wall in my biological dad’s mom’s house – a photo of 4-year-old Patrice turned into a watercolor.
He died recently. Way too young. He was only in his 60s. A few months later I was sent another box.
A box that remains unopened in my bedroom because for the life of me, I never know “when the right time is” to open a box that contains (I have no idea) and could either be:
1. The biggest disappointment in my life
2. The biggest mystery solved in my life
I will open it but I’m not sure when. Maybe I’ll do an Instagram Unboxing Live.
But as I continue to do this work and have the privilege of hearing a lot about your life within the confines of my classes, programs, and workshops, I am always reminded of this:
How similar we all are even if we’ve had totally different backgrounds.
Similar in basic human desires.
We all want to feel loved, safe, valued & free in our choices.
When I hear childhood moments from my students’ past – some are staggering and have brought me to my knees in an office hour or a class – and then see what they are now doing with their life and in their businesses, it makes me desire all the success in the world for them.
And that’s what sharing tough childhood moments can do for you.
When you allow a glimpse into your painful past, you tell your audience that there is nothing to be ashamed of…because all of us humans are working through a lot of the same things.
Your audience roots for you.
They can look at you differently and understand what you had to go through in order to get to where you are now. They cheer on your success as a founder.
That is a powerful connection.
And that connection starts with you.
And while connection comes through shared experiences, the real magic happens when we allow ourselves to connect through shared struggle.
The more of these powerful transformative moments you can recognize, the more powerful your stories will become.
The more powerful YOU become.
The more magnetic you and your business become.
And while I am still connecting my own dots in my life, I do know those early feelings of abandonment shaped me. It also gave me tremendous resilience from a young age.
Nothing to be ashamed of. Everything to be proud of.