I didn’t get out of bed on Saturday morning. Couldn’t. On the tenth consecutive rainy day in San Francisco, I scrapped plans to go to the Ferry Building market, and huddled under the covers, answering work emails and staring at the ceiling. I’m having a really hard time, coming off one of my most difficult weeks here. While at work, I maintained a sense of humor despite recent job stress, and was ready with a quick joke to lighten the recent mood. I went out five nights in a row and entertained, only to hit the pillow hard at night, dragging the next day and doing it all over again. But this morning I just couldn’t do it. I could not pretend, couldn’t face the sadness, didn’t feel an ounce of positivity that everything was working out for the best, and I wasn’t going to put on a brave face to make someone else feel happy and comfortable. This morning, I was paralyzed from the exhaustion of not being authentic to myself, of never letting them see me sweat. So this morning I allowed myself to be vulnerable.
Last year, from Brene Brown I learned that vulnerability does not equal weakness. In her most recent speech above, she continues that theme and cites Theodore Roosevelt:
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 them 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, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Perhaps one of the hardest things for me is to continually enter the arena, and to enter it not when I’m not perfect and unbreakable, but to walk through the door, head held high, when I’m broken and uncertain. To enter it when I’m most vulnerable and because I dare greatly. To not turn my back on its gates for fear of more rejection and pain. To play again, even though I lost the first few times. And lost bad. To continue to show up and not be afraid just because I got the shit beat out of me. To give up control, look people in the eye, allow empathy to enter my soul, and make a true connection with an open heart. To show up and let myself be seen. To believe that every unexpected delay, change or postponement, means that God has an even better idea.
Brene has taught me that living and loving with our whole hearts is a movement fueled by the freedom that comes when we stop pretending that everything is okay when it isn’t. But to show up because the 32nd time might work. To remember the two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: “me too.”