We’ve all done it-started telling a story only to stop and share a little contextual history when we realize folks aren’t “getting it.” We often use the word backstory when we do so.
The backstory helps the listener understand the context of the story being shared.
We all have our stories. Some sad, Some happy. Some miraculous.
Sometimes it takes the knowing of the backstory for the story itself to gain context and to be understood.
I often look at those around me as stories, living stories each with a unique backstory.
I may never have the privilege of knowing that backstory, but I must respect it.
Respecting student and colleague backstories can go a long way in teaching us graciousness.
And that gracious respect could eventually build relationships as well as the right to learn a backstory and grow together.
While growing up in the Deep South, my Momma’s Swiss-German accent intrigued my Mississippi friends. Sometimes they would telephone me just to hear my Momma answer the phone. BUT never once while growing up did I hear any of my friends make fun of her accent. Not once.
Now, I am the one who lives in a “foreign” land and my Southern accent is equally intriguing it seems.
Sometimes it can be awkward like when a man, a total stranger, says to me how much he loves to hear me talk. Or insulting when asked if I have ever eaten roadkill. (No, I have not.) Or downright funny when asked for my cornbread recipe. (It’s on the bag of cornmeal, folks.)
The difference is, some think it is OK to make fun of my accent by mimicking it in an almost vaudevillian manner.
I am sure you will agree, it’s not.
After an especially egregious event the last day of school, when a colleague of mine once again made fun of the way I talk, I am with heavy heart trying to decide the best way to make this understood for the future.
Actually, I know exactly what I must do. It’s just my Southern upbringing counters the hurting of anyone’s feelings unless the feelings are my own.