This can lead to some regrets and a number of embarrassing moments because I can say some pretty stupid stuff! Writing gives me a chance to ponder my thoughts, to read them through someone else’s eyes, to do on paper what my mind can’t seem to do…to slow down.
I’ve been writing this blog for 5 months now. I started this blog for various reasons…to share some things I’ve learned through my counseling background and my own life experiences, to see if I like writing as much as I think I do, to challenge myself by doing something totally out of my comfort zone, to test if it was something I would stick with and not give up on, to open up doors with the possibility writing might be part of a
career for me one day, and mainly because I enjoy it. What I write about isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and each time I post something I debate if I should keep doing this. Something keeps me at it though. I often get writer’s block. Not because I don’t have something to say (I always do!) but because I also decided to stay away from topics that are too personal, too controversial, too heavy. I told myself this was
because I wasn’t ready for the criticism and judgment that comes along with
plunging into topics like these. But it wasn’t until I started reading a book by Brene Brown called Daring Greatly that I understood the real reason I don’t delve into these hard topics. I don’t want to be vulnerable. Not just in this blog, but in life.
Vulnerable is defined as capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt; capable of being physically or emotionally wounded. As I write that even I’m thinking…well who in the world WOULD want to be vulnerable? Brown explains in her book how vulnerability is both the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief, and disappointment and the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation, and creativity. She explains that when we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.
I want to share an excerpt of the introductory of her book. It was one of those “aha” moments for me. I reread it many times hoping her words would seep into my pores. I find them extremely powerful. I hope you will too.
Taken from Daring Greatly by Brene Brown:
The phrase Daring Greatly is from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic.” The speech, sometimes referred to as “The Man in the Arena” was delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910. This is the passage that made the speech famous.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”
Dr. Brown continues with her thoughts.
The first time I read this quote, I thought, this is vulnerability. Everything I’ve learned from over a decade of research on vulnerability has taught me this exact lesson. Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.
Vulnerability is not a weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is question of engagement. Our
willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our
courage and clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnect.
When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationship and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make.
Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience. We must walk into the arena, whatever it may be – a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation – with courage and willingness to engage. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.
And this is just the first page! So this is my new motto…I’m daring greatly! I’m not sure exactly what that’s going to look like, but I have a few ideas. There are some arenas I need to walk into and some places I need to dare to show up. I need to realize
fear is not going to protect me and perfection is unattainable. I need to be vulnerable.
If you liked this post, go get her book. I ordered it through Amazon but I’m sure it’s in any bookstore. She has also given two TED talks and I’ve attached them here if you want to hear more. And if you get the book and you want to discuss it through an informal book club, let me know and I’ll set one up on my blog.