Don’t waste your worries on being “interesting enough”
Published 4:56 pm Friday, August 26, 2022
Over the years that I’ve been interviewing people for magazine articles and other feature newspaper stories, I occasionally get people who will say things like “I’m not really that interesting to be writing a story about.” Some are just being modest while others seem genuinely confused as to why space on a page would be dedicated to them.
A few weeks ago, I fell into this kind of thinking myself. My mother and I were talking about the columns I write each week, and she said she thinks they’re more interesting when I write about myself. My immediate response was “no, definitely not!” I much prefer writing about subjects and news that grab my attention because I like sharing those kinds of things with other people.
I struggled with this way of thinking in college too. In my creative writing classes, we sometimes had to write nonfiction essays. The subjects were often deeply personal and focused on our own experiences. There was one student who wrote about her time living abroad while her parents were missionaries. There was another who detailed the experience when her father decided to sell his house and start living out of his car. Another wrote about their medical struggles.
I, however, could not dig up any particularly tragic or extraordinary experience to reflect on. My best piece ended up being a story on abandoned houses, instead of focusing on myself. I didn’t think myself “interesting enough” to do so.
But since that conversation a few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about all the people who also told me they weren’t really that exciting to write about. My response to them each time was to reassure that their story was indeed worth sharing. Usually, that settled any worries. Truthfully, I’ve never walked away from any interview thinking “That was a waste of time. There’s no story here.” It might have been just a small accomplishment. Or it might have been one specific moment in their life. But if you look hard enough, everyone has something “interesting enough” to share.
Television host John Oliver said in an interview once, “The truth is, if you dig deep enough on anything, everything becomes interesting.”
People are multifaceted. We’re not like flat, one-dimensional characters in a book, even if some people seem that way at first glance. We all live our lives and experience different things, and that all builds up to who we are today.
And interest is a matter of perspective. My brother has tried to explain sports betting to me several times, but there are too many numbers involved to capture my attention. Conversely, I’ve tried to explain Japanese pop culture to my brother many times, but he’s not usually very interested in the fine details there either.
Our interests don’t overlap in those areas, but that’s okay. There are other people out in the world we interact with that do find those subjects fascinating to talk about.
So, with all that said, let me share a few details about myself. (It’s up to you whether or not those details are particularly interesting!)
Recently I’ve been listening to the different language tracks on my DVDs just for fun. Right now, I’m slowly making my way through “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” I’m about to the point where I can almost recite the entire opening narration in Spanish. It’s not a very useful skill, but a fun one whenever I start a new episode to watch.
In eighth grade, I was able to compete in the state’s geography bee. I don’t remember much of the competition now, but I will always remember that the question I got wrong was about the Black Sea. Bodies of water have never been my strong suit when it comes to geography! (Bonus detail: I have documentation of my trip to the competition, courtesy of a faded clipping of a photo and caption printed by this very newspaper.)
When we were younger, my brother and I used to tease our dad for his frequent reminiscing over summers spent down at Camp Caswell. Along with some of his siblings, he worked there during a few of his summer breaks. Growing up, it felt like Pops took any opportunity to share yet another story from his time down there. We rolled our eyes almost every time, and pointed out that we’d heard each story multiple times before. But then, my brother and I got old enough to attend the camp ourselves. And now, even I find myself telling people over and over again about fun times we had down there. I suppose that’s a nice bit of irony.
In my last year of college, I attended a small, local church not too far away from campus. Every Sunday, a group of widows insisted that I go to lunch with them after the service. We went to the same restaurant every single time, and they never ever let me pay for my meal. I felt so guilty about not paying that I always picked the cheapest thing on the menu to eat (a BLT sandwich). Thankfully, the restaurant made good BLTs so I never got sick of eating the same thing!
These are just a few of my own simple life experiences. I know nobody is out there dying to write a biography about me, but I don’t think I’m 100 percent boring either.
It’s fine if you don’t have a ton of crazy experiences or awe-inspiring skills or anything else that might be considered “interesting enough” for a story. You’re “interesting enough” to someone out there, and that’s good enough for me.
Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at email@example.com or at 252-332-7206.