Narrative practice allows for the recollection of specific events and periods in one’s life which can stem nuanced perspectives. These nuanced perspectives can provoke future refinement, creating possibilities for one’s future.
As a form of narrative practice, storytelling can be used as a conversation between yourself, the author, and your audience. Storytelling emphasises what has shaped and molded your life, bringing forward experiences which have given your life value and meaning (White, 2021).
It is vital that we continue storytelling as a narrative practice in our society. The ways in which it allows for people to recount and reflect can bring forward lived experiences which may be repeated in a more serious manner.
When I think of an experience where I acted to disruption and change, I revisit back to the time where I became a supervisor for our work decant team. This experience shaped me into the type of worker I am today as it has taught me what it truly takes to become a leader in a workplace.
I work at Kmart in Hurstville. I started my Kmart career in November 2019. As I was a former bartender at the Bavarian in Miranda, the change of scenery was a fresh one. I started as a sequence worker, filling products on the floor. I then ventured into the decant industry where I would learn the basics of a job that I would continue for the next year and a half.
Only a few months ago I started my role as a supervisor. A role with a common stereotype attached. You are bossy, you are angry, and you are unfair. However, there were plenty of positives that were also attached. Increased pay, more hours and authority, meaning my friends were now working for me.
This change in my life acted as a disruption to my working experience, which at the time, was running smoothly. I was becoming comfortable in my position. I noticed myself becoming good at my job, receiving compliments and small awards for my work. I also found myself making new friends who worked in decant and we began to go out together, grabbing dinner and drinks.
My supervising career started quite rough. I wasn’t taught anything, rather I had to self-teach myself the basics. I often couldn’t keep up with the fast-paced style and found myself making mistakes after mistakes. I tried to source support from my managers, however, they often replied with “Just do whatever you think is right”. Yet ironically most things I did were wrong.
The new role was a major learning curve. But with time, I started to cope with the role. I learn new things every shift and with the help of my workmates, my job became easier. An important teaching which I have learnt with this role is the fact that I must not doubt myself in a new job. Staying confident was the key to getting better and this teaching is something which I will take into my next jobs in the future.
The term ‘re-membering’ was coined by anthropologist, Barbara Myerhoof. The term was used to define a “special type of recollection” (Myerhoff, 1980). For example, the term can work to raise awareness or attention to “the reaggregation of members, the figures who belong to one’s life story”.
Narrative therapist, Michael White, then introduced the term ‘re-membering’ into narrative therapy (White, 2021). White introduced the concept called ‘the club of life’, explaining that everyone has a club of members to in their life. These members work to form and shape our identity through significant experiences and lessons.
“Re-membering practices are based on the poststructuralist understanding that our identities are forged through our relationships with other people”. – Shona Russell & Maggie Carey (Carey and Russell, 2021).
My working identity was shaped by relationships with my managers and peers. When becoming a supervisor, my personal work relied on learning from my managers and how my peers coped. The concept of re-membering through narrative practice works to build identity and gives our lives a membership aspect. How I interacted with my peers at work influenced the ways in which I see others and myself.
“By encouraging the recollection of significant, forgotten details, it seeks to generate more nuanced accounts of people’s lives, enabling them to consider wider ranges of possibilities for the future”. – Michael White (White, 2021).
In recollecting and re-membering my supervising introductory experience, in the future I can learn to react better in new and fresh situations. As I remember this story, I can take this nuanced account and apply it in inevitable future experiences such as: going for my first job interview at a big company or interviewing a famous talent.
Narrative practices introduced by Myerhoff and White have constructed valuable tools which allow us to reflect and thus reinvigorate our lives. Practices such as storytelling are key in positively formulating a successful future where people can learn from mistakes and build on achievements.
Myerhoff, B., 1980. Life History Among the Elderly: Performance, Visibility and Re-Membering. [online] Available at: <https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780429052194-9/life-history-among-elderly-performance-visibility-re-membering-barbara-myerhoff> [Accessed 25 August 2021].
White, M., 2021. Michael White Archive. [online] Available at: <https://dulwichcentre.com.au/michael-white-archive/> [Accessed 24 August 2021].
Carey, M. and Russell, S., 2021. Outsider-witness practices: some answers to commonly asked questions. [online] Narrativepractices.com.au. Available at: <https://narrativepractices.com.au/attach/pdf/Outsider_Witness_Common_Questions.pdf> [Accessed 25 August 2021].