Express Yourself

You are enough.

You are enough.

Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.
– Brené Brown

Today, I attended a seminar sponsored by my MBA program that taught us all about constructing our own personal mission statement. I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing I initially thought when I saw that was the topic of the seminar: holy bullshit, Batman. Building a personal mission statement…why don’t we just Google Image pixies, unicorns, and fairies? Because all a personal mission statement is just a bunch of fluff. Or so I thought.

To close out the seminar, we watched a TED talk. For those of you that don’t know what TED is (I discovered this evening that my parents had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned TED), it is a nonprofit organization that has a very simple and concise mission: promote Ideas Worth Spreading.

The talk we watched was given by Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston. She titled it The Power of Vulnerability. In it, she discussed how we can best find the human connection – and if you couldn’t figure it out by the title, the way to go about this is by being vulnerable. What she means by vulnerable is to accept – accept and embrace our bruises, our experiences, the things we are most ashamed of. Essentially, Brown is all for each and every one of us just being ourselves.

The twenty-minute talk is well worth the watch, and I came away realizing that for years I have been thinking I know exactly who I am and what I want, but maybe I’m not as put together as I’d like to think. In some ways, I let myself be extremely vulnerable, and in other ways, I hide myself away in the back corners of a closet, never wanting the world, let alone the people closest to me, to see that true me.

So I go about hiding certain parts of myself, yet I suffer from the problem of where I hate when people hate me. I like to be liked. Hell, I like to be loved. I mean, I have a blog, for Christ’s sake. It’s not a call for attention or anything, I swear. But Brown stated that while most of us hide ourselves away, many people are just like me – we want to feel connected to people – we want to be liked – yet we are stuck in a vicious cycle where we feel disconnected from people because we aren’t letting ourselves be ourselves, and because of that, we feel disconnected, and so the cycle goes.

But what I’ve found though, is that the human connection is what fuels humankind. It’s what wires each and every one of us. So for us to let go of the shame, the disconnect, we have to come out of the closet (so to speak) and “let ourselves be seen.”

In a way, it’s nice though. To know I’m not alone in my hiding. Everyone has had the moment of not feeling “blank” enough. I know I have so many moments where I worry that I’m not smart enough, I’m not beautiful enough, where I look at what other people are doing with their lives and then I feel plain old not good enough. we are all one in the same. And yet we aren’t. We all struggle with the same thing, yet the way we struggle – and what we are struggling for exactly – is unique. We each have our own battles. But we also have the necessary solutions to claim victory in those battles – and those solutions lie within ourselves.

As a researcher, Brown has studied the differences of humankind. More specifically, the differences between those that are truly happy versus those that perhaps, feign happiness, or those that are simply unhappy altogether. And that difference is the genuinely happy people have a strong sense of love and belonging – and they believe they are worth of that love and belonging. Yet getting to that belief is not easy. There is no step-by-step process to achieving that genuine belief that we are enough. That I am good enough. That I am worthy of kindness, love, belonging, happiness, and all the amazing things the world and the people in it have to offer.

Brown labeled those genuinely happy beings as whole-hearted because they have a sense of courage. The word courage comes from the Latin word cour, which means of the heart. And the original meaning of courage is to “tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.” So basically, we have to just be ourselves and love ourselves first, and if we can do that, we subsequently will allow our own self to be vulnerable and in turn, gain that love and belonging we all so desperately desire.

So like I said, I am good – in some aspects – at being vulnerable. And there are so many little ways to let yourself be vulnerable. Telling someone that you love them first, investing in our relationships with others without expecting anything in return, doing something to the best of your ability even though you might not know if it will work out or not. There’s no limit to the number of ways we can put ourselves out there.

Yet the issue is that this is a societal problem. Brown spoke about how we as a society numb vulnerability. And because we choose to numb vulnerability, we end up numbing any genuine sense of happiness and joy. We might not think we do, but we do. You can’t be selective with your emotions – life, sadly, just doesn’t work like that. Because we choose to numb who we are and because we feel like we aren’t good enough and maybe won’t ever be enough to be accepted, we compensate. This compensation comes in the form of emotional eating, drinking to excess, medication, etc. To date, we as adults are the most obese, medicated, and addicted generation. And why I say that this issue is societal is because parents pass this idea of the need to “fit in,” the need to be perfect, on to their children. Parents want to ensure that their precious child remains perfect and whole and the way the ensure that this happens: they put pressure on us. This oh-so-wonderful tradition explains why the younger generations feel so pressured to conform, to be perfect, to do what we think everyone else wants us to do rather than what we should be doing to make ourselves happy. Maybe that’s why my generation feels so dissatisfied with life.

So I guess maybe the way we should live – the way I am going to start living – is to just let go. I have my scars, my bruises, my shadows, I have pain just like everyone else, some messed up things have happened in my past, but I can accept it. I can embrace it. Because the good, the bad, and the ugly – it all makes me, me.

If we can learn to understand ourselves and learn that to be ourselves is more than okay (in fact, it’s pretty wonderful), then we can also learn about others and their own struggles with vulnerability. We can be more compassionate, we can be kinder, we can be more loving – to ourselves and to one another. And in the spirit of being kinder, let me pass on my newfound mantra – a little something from me to you. Repeat after me: I am enough.

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