Dispatches from the Moth · Posted On: Mar 14, 2023

Storytelling School with The Moth: Storytelling Activity #56

by The Moth Staff

Lesson #56: STILL FIGURING IT OUT  “Losing Games” - Esther Messe

Hello and Happy Spring!

We are very excited to highlight The Moth’s brand new, very first spinoff podcast! Hosted by alums of the Moth’s Education (EDU) Program and featuring many storytellers who first told their stories on the EDU stage, the podcast is called… Grown - Because we’re all still figuring it out.

Grown Host Photos  Aleeza Kazmi And Alfonso  Fonzo  Lacayo  Photo Credit Annie Millman 1

Grown hosts Aleeza Kazmi & Fonzo Lacayo

Grown is about the in-between: the nebulous, the liminal, the just plain weird time between those awkward teenage years and full-on adulthood. Grown is co-hosted by Aleeza Kazmi and Alfonso “Fonzo” Lacayo, two Moth storytellers and graduates of The Moth’s Education Program who are on the cusp of adulthood themselves. Together, they guide listeners through true stories that deal with the challenges and joys of growing up. Using their unique points of view, Aleeza and Fonzo will discuss crushes, culture, identity, secrets, and more. Like The Moth Podcast, Grown centers fresh, personal stories told at Moth events worldwide—but Grown also features conversations with the storytellers themselves, on the street interviews, audio diaries from young voices, and more. Grown is a podcast that reminds us that no matter how old we are, we’re never fully grown. New episodes drop bi-weekly and you can listen here

This month’s story comes to us from a storyteller who is featured on Grown, Esther Messe! Esther told this story at an EDU Showcase in Brooklyn after first joining us for our education program for students in NYC, All City

This month’s Storytelling School story is:

“Losing Games” by Esther Messe

After you’ve watched and read the story, you can do the following activities: 

Talk to each other about Esther’s story. 

For each post, we’ll highlight a different crafting strategy for how to make your story compelling. For this post, we’ll focus on STILL FIGURING IT OUT. Esther does an amazing job of dropping us into their experience without getting ahead of the story. The diagnosis and the events of this time period in Esther’s life are confusing and rather than claim that everything’s under control, this story ends with the wise admission that sometimes you have to figure it out as you go.

2-3 Discussion questions:

  • At several points in this story, Esther lets us peek behind the curtain to share their thoughts and feelings in the moment. What specifically does Esther share that allows us to understand their experience better? 

  • Stories don’t always end with a perfect resolution tied up in a neat bow. How does Esther use their last line to show us that this is a story that is still in progress but also wraps it up in a way that leaves the audience satisfied?

Write or tell your own story.

At The Moth, we believe in celebrating the diversity and commonality of human experience. Often, listening to someone’s story will remind us of a story from our own lives. While you almost definitely have not had Esther’s exact experience, it still may have reminded you of a story from your life. Get inspired by these prompt questions to tell your own story!

Let’s Play “Have You Ever” - 

Raise your hand if … 

  • You’ve ever felt carefree

  • You’ve ever listened to your inner critic

  • You’ve ever felt compelled to do something you didn’t really want to do

  • You’ve ever wanted to avoid the truth and just go home

  • You’ve ever felt like you didn’t fit in the box 

  • You’ve ever felt like you needed to be fixed

  • You’ve ever gone on the internet to try to define something you were experiencing

  • You’ve ever felt like you weren’t normal 

  • You’ve ever kept your shame or your worries to yourself 

  • You’ve ever realized you are not alone

  • You’ve ever found someone you could rely on to truly understand what you’re going through


  • Name your inner characters! We all have many different parts of us - the part that wants to eat dessert for breakfast, and the part that knows we should probably exercise and have a well rounded breakfast instead (and save dessert for later). We may have the part that is hard on us, and the part that is compassionate and nurturing. And so many more! Use this template (may we suggest the one with at least six people?) - name your parts, write their values on their chests, and underneath them write about a time when they were in control.

  • It can be hard for us to be our own biggest fans sometimes, especially when we feel alone or like an outsider. Taking a cue from this fun story, what would you tell your stuffed animals about YOU now? What are you proud of? What have you gone through? Make a list and celebrate you! 

Share this post with a friend!

And check back the second Tuesday of every month for another story.

Storyteller bio

Esther Messe is a junior in Edward R Murrow, almost done with all their exams, they've always told stories and have a cat named oysters.

The Moth Education Program works with young people and educators to build community through storytelling workshops, performances and innovative resources. To learn more, visit themoth.org/education

The Moth Education Program is made possible by generous support from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the Kate Spade New York Foundation, and Alice Gottesman, and The Paul & Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation.

Additional program support is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the New York State Council on the Arts, ConEdison, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.