• Amanda Jayne

The Single story

"When we realise there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise."

I loved this #TED talk by Chimamanda Adichie about the danger of promoting a single #story about a place or a people. It's so easy to fall into believing the one story we have read, or the one story we are consistently fed in the media IS the story of a place.

When I first travelled to #SouthAfrica in 1990, my friends and some of my family were terrified for me. All we had seen on the news was violence, unrest and disharmony. Those things did exist, yet I discovered there were other stories going on there too that challenged what I thought I knew about the place and the people. It's fascinating to watch how frequently we have decided we know a place without having been there or a collective of people after only meeting one of them.

I'm in Canada at the moment and before I flew here I went to get my legs waxed. The lovely lady brave enough to tackle this mammoth task was horrified when I told her I was coming to #Canada. She had seen a documentary about the 'lost girls' in Canada who had disappeared and as a result had decided it was a terrible place. The story of more than 1000 indigenous girls who were taken is horrific - and true - but it is not the only story of Canada or Canadians.

This talk has made me more aware of how I buy into the single story in aspects of my daily life as well as on a bigger scale. How often do I assume I know someone from a single interaction? The woman who cold called me to tell me I had been in an accident for example and needed a lawyer (funny I don't remember it). I very clearly decided who she was in the moment (I won't say what I decided on) yet this is only a single story about her and we are made of a plethora of single stories. No single one defines who we are.

I can see how I get stuck in attempts to create a single story about myself as well, in order to be seen a certain way. A 'good' person, a 'teacher', 'successful' or whatever else I may think is the right thing. The result is that when I show up differently, or an aspect of me shows up that creates a different story, I'm even more judgemental about myself than I am the lady who needed a job so badly that she was willing to call people up and lie about them having an accident.

Believing the single story about places, people or myself is limiting myself to a tiny fragment of the whole picture, which in turn limits my experience of the world.

I hope you enjoy the video :)