Speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we’re feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage. – Brené Brown
Seven years ago, I packed my things and, without having a job or a study programme, moved to Brazil. I just did it. I would be told by some that it was “a brave move”, to which I would say, “Oh no no, ‘brave’ is how you describe a doctor in a war zone, or a journalist in Mexico. My decision has nothing to do with bravery.’ And I did mean it: there was little fear there.
But I was terrified to quit my job during a pandemic.
Financial security. Some kind of a career ladder, I guess. Besides, my colleagues were truly great. Oh my.
What if my next move doesn’t really lead to anywhere? What if I suck at it? What if all I prove to myself is that quitting that job was a lousy decision? And though it’s uncool to admit, there was another question: How will I be seen by others?
Moving to Brazil didn’t have so much attached, you see. Quitting my job, on the other hand, had a baggage of its own.
Brené Brown’s research would explain it in a pretty straightforward way. She teaches us over and over again that there is no courage without vulnerability. That there aren’t many things in life that we would consider courageous, that we would admire, and which wouldn’t require us to be vulnerable. And without vulnerability and courage, we simply cannot lead wholehearted lives.
What are those small acts of courage that we can choose to do even when our choices are otherwise limited in this pandemic?
To tell our friends we’re not OK. To be a beginner again. To shed an old identity. To share our good creative work. To share our bad creative work. To ask for help. To show up for others. To dance how we really feel like dancing, yes.
(Though…wait, no. I might take that last one back. I have to think about the children!)
And I think at any time, pandemic or not, it takes a lot of courage to accept uncertainty as our companion. A drive for certainty, in my own experience, is usually not the drive that leads to a fulfilling destination. It might be a safe one, but all that is certain here – all that is guaranteed – is oftentimes our dissatisfaction, if we fail to take action.
“Just be vulnerable!” is not a great instruction. “C’mon, be brave!” – cool, thanks.
But what’s the alternative? Never expressing ourselves openly? Never showing that empathy? Never forming meaningful relationships? Never giving ourselves the chance/excitement/ridiculous-story-of-failure to do something we’ve been secretly wanting to do?
In short, not being vulnerable sucks. It’s a heavy load to carry that no-one benefits from.
We’ll talk more about this in tomorrow’s post on creativity. In a way (in this challenge at least!), self-compassion unlocks courage, and courage unlocks creativity. If it sounds weird, “not for me, thank you”, or even illogical – please let your scepticism fuel you into actually checking tomorrow’s post. It’s a heartwarming one!
What is one brave thing – a message, a call, an encouraging thing you’ll tell yourself, a strong YES to something, or a long-overdue NO – that you can do today? Like, right now? How do you think you’ll feel after taking that action? How will you see yourself?
Let Brené whisper to you: “Courage is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.”
Don’t even look at the next section. Go do it!
Resource of the Day
It’s a test! This is the most fun resource in this challenge so far, I know.
It’s a test that Brené and her team have put together to help you answer this seemingly rhetoric question:
How wholeheartedly are you living?
You can take it here. Be honest, don’t overthink it, and see where you stand at ten aspects of wholehearted living.
Also, for the ones who explored Day 2 of this challenge, you’ll notice at least one question on that same topic:)