I told myself earlier this month that I would write a new post about my journey to landing an opportunity of a lifetime. Weeks passed and though it never left my mind, I didn’t allow myself to slow down enough to get my thoughts together to be able to share the magnitude of what happened; especially in a year that has been nothing less than tragic. I promise that I’ll get to that story but today I had to stop everything to share the most simplest moment that happened to me just this morning.
Like many of you, I have been hit hard this week. The news of Jacob Blake… followed by the teen vigilante shooting… while watching the repeated history displayed at the March on Washington… and the looming frustration of have no arrests in the case of Breonna Taylor… and then news that Chadwick Boseman dies at age 42. THE Black Panther. Wakanda Forever. Gone. It was too much. So this morning I purposed myself to take control of the mood that I wanted to set for the day. I decided to set aside hours of no television and no social media. Instead, I would light candles, have breakfast, fold clothes and maybe I would break out one of the books I’ve been trying to read for over a year.
I love when things just unfold without any real effort. The story begins with an Instagram Story with several quotes that had me not only respond with several “Yaaaass’s” but also led to quite a few screenshots for me to revisit when I need that extra motivation or positivity push. Not long after, I get a message from the person who posted the story encouraging me to check out a Netflix special featuring a woman named Brene’ Brown. Now at this point, I’ve never heard of her but some of you may have seen her TedX Talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” which garnered millions of views and ultimately spring boarded her into a well-renknowned motivational speaker. It wasn’t anything she sought up but it was definitely her calling. Over the holiday weekend, I decided to check out her Netflix special titled “Brene’ Brown: the Call to Courage.” What started out as a simple, relaxed afternoon to stack up on more motivational quotes eventually led to me to reevaluate my entire outlook on life but more importantly how I react to it! I wasn’t ready…
The first big moment was her definition of “vulnerability.” A word that I’m completely uncomfortable with and quite frankly would rather not acknowledge as an actual thing that I need to address or implement. Clearly this message has my name all over it!
“Vulnerability”: having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome.
Never have I ever related vulnerability to courage. Vulnerability has always been unnecessary in my eyes. I likened it to my dad’s famous saying “Don’t be no sitting duck” which basically means to not let your guard down. Be on alert. Now I’m sure that was meant for walking the streets of DC but I guess I took it as gospel across the board. It also didn’t help that, like everyone, I’ve been burned a few times when trusting and loving the wrong people. Whatever ounce of vulnerability I allowed to seep in was quickly sobered up with that heavy dose of reality. But Brene’ had a lesson on that and it was simple like most profound statements tend to be.
“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; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows the end of 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.” – Theodore Roosevelt
This is the quote that changed her life after suffering extreme criticism from viewers of her TedX Talk on YouTube titled “The Power of Vulnerability.” And because of her one decision to “live in the arena” and “dare greatly” she’s able to impact an even wider audience by even bigger doors being opened to her. That door led her into my living room and essentially opening up a way of thinking that has stifled my growth in so many areas! She also confirmed that this little blog written by this super introverted girl is not by happenstance. It’s my own way of living in the arena. It’s my way of daring greatly and my vehicle to push my own boundaries despite every insecurity, self doubt, and imperfection that haunts me daily. And it’s bigger than just the blog, this level of growth carries over into my relationships and my career path. Bree’ puts it best “Vulnerability allows you to be seen for who you truly are and not who you want people to believe you to be.”
“How can you let yourself be loved if you can’t be seen?” – Brene’ Brown
Loving yourself is allowing yourself to be seen. Allow people to get to know the real you. Code switching is a term that many people of color use when working in predominately white places of employment. How much of that is preconceived? What if you truly showed up as yourself… you’re professional self… and allowed them to get comfortable and exposed to the real you? What would happen if you didn’t try to fit into the box that you expect will satisfy the woman or man of your dreams? Why would someone you’re meant to be with require your true self to live in a prison while they live in a fairytale?
There were many poignant and quotable remarks in her special but what stood out the most was the story of her daughter who was chosen to compete in a swim meet that both she and her daughter knew she had no chance of winning. Her daughter tried everything to get out of it, even asking the coach to reconsider. It didn’t work. Her final escape option came from a friend who told her she could “scratch her heat”– intentionally miss her getting on the starting block. At the start of the race, it looked as if she wouldn’t show up but she did. The race was ugly. She got lapped and was so far behind that the next race was lined up on the block to start while she was still swimming her lap. Naturally, she was crushed, embarrassed, and exhausted but when she reunited with her parents she said in the midst of tears “That sucked but I was brave and I won.”
What does winning look like to you? Was it that the coach set her up to fail or was it that he set her up to win in the future? Half the battle is showing up. What if part of the process of winning is coming off the block and getting wet? Can you think of any times in your life where you scratched your own heat where you decided not to come off the block and essentially disqualify yourself before it even began? I know for sure I have. I didn’t apply for that job because I didn’t meet all the qualifications. I didn’t participate in a discussion because I didn’t want to let on what I didn’t know or understand. I didn’t take an opportunity because there was too much of an unknown that I couldn’t control.
Self reflection is never easy. No one enjoys putting a magnifying glass on themselves especially when it’s not a guaranteed win. Though I didn’t enjoy what this all revealed and the amount of work I have to do to reprogram myself, I’m comforted in knowing that I’m headed in the right direction and that this blog is a baby step into what I’m sure is going to be a terrifying dive into one vulnerable moment after another. There’s only one question left to ask… who’s ready to take a dip?!
Three words I absolutely hate to say and definitely never like to hear. But I uttered those words last night. I actually said them a few weeks ago and both times I couldn’t believe I actually said them out loud. I don’t ever claim to know it ALL but what I do believe in is finding out. If ever someone asked me a question related to work and I didn’t have an answer, it was never just “I don’t know.” It would be either “I’m not certain that I have all the information so let me review and get to back to you close of business” … or “Give me a moment and I’ll find out.” Both insinuate that I don’t have the answer but it’s never a blanket statement of “I don’t know.”
The biggest no-no for me is to always, and I mean always have a plan and what bigger plan can you have than the one you have for your life. I mean it’s your life! If you don’t know then who else is going to be able to tell you?? That has been my thinking forever and in many ways it still is so when I said “I Don’t Know” when asked about my life plans last night I felt like a complete loser. But I had to be honest and I truly had and still have no idea what’s next. Scariest feeling ever for someone who has always known her next move. I had to slow my mind down enough to get back on course and I can say now that I have a new and refreshed understanding of what all this planning is about. Continue reading “I Don’t Know”→