Life Story Arc
The Life Story Arc is a wonderful way to tell your life story, or the story of your parents. It is presented in chronological order. You start at the beginning. You progress through the various stages of your life. You finish with your big contributions, lessons, and your hopes and wishes for future generations.
The objective is to highlight the unique experiences and insights from each stage of your life. Your primary audience is likely to be your kids, grandkids, great grandkids…and their kids, on down the line. They want to better understand themselves and the tribe they were born into, by understanding who you really are (or were after your passing) and the life you led. They want to learn something radically new or surprising about you. They want to take pride in the legacy they inherited from you.
To give them that, you first need to lay the ground work. You need to present your backstory. Most people of every generation, in every country in the world, have a common set of experiences. They had parents or guardians. Most had siblings. They went to school. They made friends. They fell in love. They worked in the home or outside the home. They raised children, they built a life, they made choices…sometimes bad choices or hard choices, etc. Your audience wants to know how these experiences were unique to you!
Below is a graph of possible story topics from the five stages of life: Childhood, Teen Years, Early Adulthood, Mid Adulthood, and Senior Years. You can key off of these topics, or jump right into the stories you remember most about each stage. What are the stories you think your family and friends will find interesting, insightful, or downright entertaining?
As you review the list of topics you might talk about from each period in your life, you will note that some of them are core themes. Your relationships with your family and friends. Your sense of self. Love. Triumphs. Failure. Trauma. From childhood through the present day, certain people, events, situations, and experiences, played central roles in your life. Out of the 8 billion people on the planet, they are unique to you. Give special attention to these core themes. They represent the things that made you who you are.
Your Childhood Story, Ages 1-12
You were born innocent and oblivious, like all humans. You were completely helpless and dependent on others for food, shelter, clothing, and wellbeing. You learned, you grew, you formed beliefs and a sense of self. You had fears. You had wants and desires. Your parents, your siblings, your playmates and teachers, all influenced your thinking and feelings in different ways. Your environment, such as your home, your school, and your neighborhood, contributed to your early identity. You grew up in good times or troubled times.
Write or record your recollections about the people, places, experiences, and times that shaped your childhood years.
A good place to start is with a list of topics, or vivid memories, which helped set the stage for the person you eventually became. The experiences that made you happy. The experiences that made you sad or angry. The people or events that stunted your growth or propelled you to newer, higher, and healthier horizons. If you experienced trauma during your childhood, such as serious illness, accident, or death of a loved one, how did this experience shape how you lived your life or change your outlook on life?
If you need help, the Leaves Virtual Biographer will interview you about your childhood. Just choose a topic or memory to discuss and your biographer will help you recall details and flush out the stories of your childhood experiences.
Childhood interview topics might include:
- Earliest Memories
- Mom, Dad, Siblings*
- Childhood Home
- Favorite Toy
- Learning to Ride a Bike
- Getting in Trouble
- First Kiss/Crushes
* Certain people and experiences from your childhood can create unifying themes that you can carry through to the other periods of your life. These are central characters and anchor points. For example, how did the relationship with your parents, guardians and siblings change between childhood and adulthood? How did your faith and beliefs evolve from childhood into adulthood? How did the teachings and guidance of others impact how you lived the rest of your life? What traumas effected your entire life? How did trauma, grief or frightening experiences impact how you faced and dealt with other stressful and challenging times in life? As your story evolves from childhood into your teen years and beyond, try to make these linkages.
Your Teen Years Story, Ages 13-18
Your teen years are about coming of age. So much life is packed into these few short years. You grew physically, intellectually, socially, emotionally, and spiritually — at an accelerated pace. You broke away from your parents or guardians. You became self-dependent for many of your needs. You experimented. You had big dreams. You made big decisions that propelled you, for better or for worse, into early adulthood.
The story of your teen years builds on your childhood story and sets the stage for what came next — a hugely transformative period in your life. You officially became an adult. What people and experiences created the bridge between your childhood and early adulthood? How did the relationship with your parents and the other important people in your life evolve during your teen years? What romances blossomed? Did you fall in love? Did you have a child, or have to ‘grow up’ too quickly because of events outside of your control?
As you did for your childhood story, create a list of topics or vivid memories that were defining moments of your teen years. Who played central roles? Which experiences grounded you or derailed you? How did your middle school and high school years change your outlook on people and life? Were these happy times, wild times, or hard times? How did you deal with the insecurities, fears, and rejections that every teen feels?
If you need help, the Leaves Virtual Biographer will interview you about your teen years. Just choose a topic or memory to discuss and your biographer will help you recall details and flush out the stories of your teen experiences.
Teen years interview topics might include:
- First Serious Romance
- First True Love
- High School Graduation
- Classes & Extracurricular Activities
- Learning to Drive/First Car
- Best Friends
- Turning 18
- Dreams/Deciding What’s Next
- Dealing with Rejection and Disappointment
- Favorite Music/Movies
Your adolescent growth spurt brought rapid changes in your height, weight, sexual maturation, intellectual and emotional development. These years also brought changes to your personality and outlook on life. How you went into your teen years and how you came out of them was nothing short of a metamorphosis. Like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.
At the end of your teen years story, describe how you emerged. Were you stronger and more confident? Were you unsure and unsteady? Were you more mature or more immature than your peers at age eighteen? What were the `facts of life’ as you understood them at that point in your life? What were your truths? This summary will help set up the story of your early adult years.
Your Early Adulthood Story, Ages 19-40
What a time of life this was, yes? You were sowing your oats. You had the world by the tail. You were young and fearless. Life held so many possibilities. You were old enough to know better, but still young enough to experiment and make mistakes. You went to work, or went to college, or joined the military. Maybe you just bummed around, trying to figure it out? The times were changing, and you were changing with them.
Your early adulthood was a hugely transformative period in your life. Big changes happened. You made life-changing decisions. You got married or ‘shacked up.’ You had kids or adopted them, or you decided the single life was for you. Why? You bought a house or rented an apartment. You bought a car. You traveled more broadly than you had ever before. Your life was no longer just about you. You started prioritizing the loved ones in your life. You were starting to figure out the ways of the world and your place in it.
As you did for your childhood story and teen years story, create a list of topics or vivid memories that were defining moments of your early adulthood. Who played central roles? How did your relationships with your parents, siblings, and friends evolve? Did you fall in love? If you married, what was your marriage like? If you had children, what was it like to be a young parent? Why did you choose your profession? Or did it choose you? Did you have a career? Did you like the jobs you had?
If you need help, the Leaves Virtual Biographer will interview you about your early adulthood. Just choose a topic or memory to discuss and your biographer will help you recall details and flush out the stories of your early adult years.
Early adulthood interview topics might include:
- First ‘Real’ Job
- Going to College/Choosing Major
- Choosing Profession/Career
- Joining/Serving in the Military
- College Graduation
- Falling in Love/Getting Married/Wedding Day
- Birth of Kids/Parenting
- First House or Apartment
- Finding Success/Big Promotion
- Learning from Failures
- Causes/Volunteer Work
- Travels and Adventures
Your early adulthood was likely the genesis of how you eventually made your mark in life. Set it up for your audience. Was it by creating life…having and raising children? Was it the career path you took? Was it the causes you supported and the volunteer work you performed? Was it a natural gift you perfected? Was it a stand you took, or a big risk you conquered? Talk about the early decisions you made and the actions you took. Talk about how those decisions and actions would eventually produce the things you are most proud of accomplishing in life.
Your Mid Adulthood Story, Ages 41-64
Middle age is often a new awakening for people. You probably realized you had more years behind you than ahead of you. This wakeup call takes people in new directions, prompts them to do some of the things they have always wanted to do, and decide what they want for the remainder of their lives. The story of your middle age is one of change, acceptance, and new priorities.
Create a list of mid-life topics. How did your priorities change? What new perspectives did you form about yourself and life in general? Were these changes and perspectives the result of you noticing the signs of age, your children leaving and becoming adults, or spurred by outside events? Did your new outlook on life happen in some sharp turning point, or did it creep up on you? How old were you when this started to happen?
Describe the major changes and significant events that occurred during these years. Think about the expression: “Life Begins at Forty.” What “began” for you in your forties? What ended? Write about a risk you took in your 40’s that you wouldn’t have dreamed of taking in your 20’s.
If you need help, the Leaves Virtual Biographer will interview you about your mid adulthood. Just choose a topic or memory to discuss and your biographer will help you recall details and flush out the stories of your mid adulthood years.
Mid adulthood interview topics might include:
- Mid-life Crisis
- Death of a Parent
- Health Scare
- Last Child Leaves Home (empty nester)
- Birth of Grandkids
- Finding New Purpose
- New Hobbies and Passions
- Mentoring and Advising Others
- New Perspectives
- New Activities
- New Loves/Friendships
- Reinventing Yourself
Many of one’s defining moments happen in middle age. You reach a point in life where you stop caring so much about what others think of you. You start living less for others and more for yourself. You may have realigned yourself towards unfinished business, or towards all new horizons. These are the unifying themes that make for a good mid-life story. The story of this period of your life may also help your spouse, children, and friends understand why you changed!
Your Senior Years Story, Ages 65+
Your senior years, of course, are still a work in progress. But no better time than the present to reflect on the long life you have lived and your hopes and wishes for your descendants. Your story…the life you lived…is a big part of your legacy. Don’t leave it to other people’s memories!
The Senior Years bring the greatest transformation of self than any other in life. You are what you have chosen to become. You have arrived and you realize there is no time to waste. How you see and experience life is distinctly different from every other period of your life. Your story is more important than ever, not just to you, but to all those who will follow in your line.
If you need help, the Leaves Virtual Biographer will interview you about your senior years. Just choose a topic or memory to discuss and your biographer will help you recall details and flush out the stories of your senior years.
Senior Years interview topics might include:
- Death of Spouse
- Death of Friends
- Being a Grandparent
- Keeping Busy
- Reflections on Life
- Life Lessons
- Health Challenges
- Hopes/Wishes for Heirs
- Your Life’s Work
- Beliefs and Philosophies
- General Musings
This is the part of your life story where you get to dispense wisdom….and people might actually listen! You have years of experience. You have seen good times and bad times. You can put your mistakes into perspective. You can bring your life into focus. You can give your audience a clear picture of the person you became. In doing so, you might even help your descendants to better understand themselves and the legacy they inherited from you.
This is also the part of your story where you can make some predictions. People love to get a glimpse of the future. How have your lived experiences imbued you with unique insights about what is to come? What does the future look like for your grandchildren and great grandchildren? What roles do you wish for them that would make your family stronger and the world a better place?
Your Life Story will survive you and be passed down to future generations. Make it worth reading or listening to. Make it worth learning from. Make it uniquely yours!
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