#7: This is the end…

I have discovered over the past nine months I have participated in this course, that self direction is a complicated ideal for me. Perhaps I am not a leader in the direct sense of the word. I am easily distracted, easily pushed away from motivation, I think this comes from being sort of despondent for a year. I have the ability to be a leader but I need the push and I need a strong group of people to force me into a leadership role. Does this make me a bad leader, or a bad participant in the ideal of self direction? Maybe so. But what I know is that What’s The Story has improved my ability to be self directed tenfold. As to where this will go in the future, I can only hope that it improves the way What’s The Story made it.

If I were to ask myself the question, ‘Am I a responsible and involved citizen?’ the answer would be yes. I am one of the many people in the world plagued by the affliction known as ‘caring too much’. For a white boy who grew up in a middle class household, I’ve had a surprisingly weird life. A life full of things that would make any person ‘care too much’. The involved part was a given even before I joined this course. What has improved is the responsibility aspect. This course has made me far more aware of my place in the world and how much power that place can hold. It has helped me be able to contemplate what my responsibility is to the world and how I can shape it to benefit my community.

I am brash and opinionated and loud and really, really weird. The way I think isn’t exactly ‘think first act second’, in fact it is much the opposite. Whether or not this is just the teenage way of thinking about things is a different question. What this course has helped me do is to consider the way I think and then fit my learning style into what best works for me. I hope in the future that I grow out of this impulsiveness and truly become a informed and integrative thinker to my best ability.

I spent most of 2015 incapacitated due to mental illness, and while this was traumatic and horrible, it also taught me to tell people what I needed, and be a proper advocate for myself. Since then I haven’t had a problem communicating effectively to people. What I do have a problem with is knowing when to stop, and knowing when to be polite and effective in that politeness. This is what What’s The Story has taught me. What is funny to me is that a lot of the ways they taught us to be effective communicators were very similar to a specific kind of therapy I participated in. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT is really big on being a good communicator and self oriented advocate.


Around the beginning of this course I started to become sketchy about communication, I fell out of contact and started slacking on the work required of me. It was then that Bill and Tim made me aware of the consequences of my actions and told me that I needed to be a part of the course that I signed up for or I wouldn’t get the credit. Because of my experiences with mental illness the year before, I was missing many credits and I didn’t know if I would graduate on time with my class. I really needed the credit and the course was really important to me personally as well. I think the most important lesson I learned from What’s The Story was that my actions had consequences and that I needed to live up to those consequences without making excuses. I got my act together and started being a better communicator and a better group member.

What’s The Story has been such an amazing experience for me and I feel so lucky to have participated in it and acquired the skills it gave me.

Thank you so much.

Nathan DeGroot

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