I read a lot of creative blogs and one person who is mentioned by many of them is Brene Brown. I follow her on twitter and her words have floated around, like so many that I read and hear, and she has always been someone I wanted to read more about, maybe read her books. I knew of a TED talk that she had done but I hadn’t gotten around to watching it.
You know that feeling when you realise something and it knocks the wind out of you and you know in the deepest part of you that it is true?
That’s the feeling I have from watching her talk, “The power of vulnerability“, and feeling her words in my heart.
I have a terrible habit of not being able to do one thing at a time anymore. I play with my iphone when I’m watching TV. I listen to music when I’m working on my books. I find it very hard to settle into doing just one thing. So, I’m watching/listening to Brene while extracting ingrown hairs from my leg (gross, yes, but that is what I was doing). She starts talking about the meaning of courage and how being vulnerable actually opens us to joy, gratitude and feeling alive and I was dumbstruck. I stop what I am doing and focus on hearing her words.
The numbness I’ve felt (still feel), the lack of connection, the inability to believe in who I am, is from this place where I’ve learnt to not show vulnerability, to not show being fragile, to bottle up shame and never speak of it again. The old ‘stiff upper lip’ has been the mantra I grew up with, which in turn, was how my parents were raised. It has been handed down like a worn out old aunt who just won’t leave. My brother works with it, but me, notsomuch.
I’ve spent my whole like trying to prove I’m worthy. “Look at me! I’ve finished in the top 15 of my school!”; “I’m the first in my immediate family to graduate from university!”; “I’m 24 and married – someone loves me!”; “I’ve got the white picket fence – the husband, house, dog, good job”. And underneath all of that, I was numb, I felt disconnected from everything. I felt I wasn’t enough.
To love with your whole heart, to let ourselves be really seen (as Brene said), is to accept there is no guarantees, to believe that in being vulnerable there is hope and joy and love. To take that chance of being rejected and still doing it anyway. To believe that by taking a leap, there will be somewhere to land. But the key is to know that you are ‘enough’, you have the tools and the skills to be rejected and to take that leap.
I know these words aren’t revolutionary. They have been spoken before and many books have been written on this topic. It is for this very reason that psychologists and psychiatrists are doing such great business. For whatever reason, Brene’s words touched me, found their way into my heart and opened a door that has previously been closed to me.
I am vulnerable. I am weak. I am complicated and I am sometimes terrified of the future.
I am joyful. I am happy. I am loved and I love.
I AM enough.