“I haven’t told this to anyone, you’re the first,” she said to me. We were on a vacation somewhere north (ha! As if I know my bearings), and it was nearly midnight.

“I think I am brave enough to tell you the story because you don’t know these people.”

Sounds familiar?


In telling our stories, we tend to be selective. We tell one group of people, and not the other. We find someone we can trust, and depending on the main reason we tell the story, we will choose someone who is a listener, an adviser, or just plain someone who has walked in our shoes.

And now I have discovered another pattern, we tend to tell our problems to someone who don’t know the people we are talking about. In other words, we tell stories of one group of friends to a totally different group of friends.

Why? Perhaps it’s because of anxiety. We are afraid to get exposed, if someone would accidentally spill the beans. Perhaps it’s because we need fresh perspectives that are not biased. Perhaps it’s because it’s just easier.

Sure, telling our problems to that same group of friends is easy because they have all the materials in hand – they know the picture, the context, the motives. The dots are there, now they just need to connect it. Telling stories to another group of friends require us to draw the dots from the very beginning.

Oh, I don’t know. To be honest I’m more comfortable sharing my stories to a stranger of the people involved. There are times when I can’t tell a stranger because the story’s too complicated and only the inside people will understand, but apart from that, well, that’s my preference.

That makes me think – even in telling stories, we are selective on who to tell. And I do it unconsciously.

Do you?