Talking about courage takes a lot of courage. At the MKE Big Read storytelling workshop on Thursday, April 13 at the UWM Union, an intimate group of ten storytellers came together to craft and share their tales of courage. I was one of them. I didn’t intend to be. I thought I’d just volunteer, write a blog post and that’d be it. No courage needed. I was wrong.

MKE BIG READ's book is In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia AlvarezI listened to everyone else’s stories about courage. There was real uncertainty in their decisions before they realized they made the right choice. I couldn’t think of an instance that I had that was like that. Their tales of standing up for themselves, divorce and family helped me build my courage throughout the night. Prepare to be truly inspired at a workshop as everyone starts to open up and share their stories.

My moment of courage was still to come, my story of coming out. I still had to come out to everyone, while telling them about my first time. My heart was racing as I realized it was my time to speak, and I told the story quickly before I lost my voice completely. My courage made me speak, but it didn’t help me tell the story. After hearing everyone else’s stories, I knew that I was in a safe place to share.

A college-age woman writes intently on a worksheet.

Melissa crafting her story at the workshop

The second part of the night was breaking up into small groups as worksheets helped us develop and hone our stories. Within just a couple of minutes, we were ready to share our stories again with more courage than last time.

For the last act of the night, we went over a different worksheet that had the basic elements of storytelling and performing. We learned the best ways to start a story, the importance of emotions and letting the audience come to their own conclusions.

I may not have had the courage to share much during the workshop, but it was something I Snapchatted at the end of the night to my friends. I did it! I did it! I told them.

Learn more about free events that Ex Fabula is presenting as part of the MKE Big Read