We’ve been thinking about a story we heard on a recently rebroadcast episode of This American Life. The story belongs to Emir Kamenica, a professor of economics and Bosnian refugee who came of age in the U.S. during a rough assimilation at a high school in Chicago. The story, told by Emir, has a heroine — a teacher named Miss Ames — and, later in the episode, Emir and Miss Ames are reunited. The story shifts: two memories, two voices retread Emir’s telling of events, and they don’t exactly match. The episode becomes something else: a deeper and gentle look at why one tells a story a certain way, and how all of us tend to skew the truth about the past in order to orient in the present.
Telling one’s story, becoming conscious of the way it’s told, and cultivating a spirit of inquisitiveness around our inner narrator: these are building blocks in psychotherapy, brought to the surface with a deft, meaningful touch in this episode. Emir’s story can be found in Acts Two and Three of the episode “How I Got Into College,” framed by author Michael Lewis. Listen online or download the episode here.