Vulnerability – (adj.) Capable of being hurt or wounded.
Possibly the best way to know exactly what you want in life is to know exactly what you do not want in life.
Three and half years ago I left my job as an elementary school teacher to spend more time with my family and more time writing. I remember the sudden sense of relief and freedom I felt when my schedule opened up. If I wanted to, I could stop and watch a osprey teach her baby to fly, go for walks with my son, spend an hour chatting with my daughter or drive to the store in the middle of the afternoon. I was no longer rushing, trying to squeeze in as much as I possibly could into each day and then going to bed with a to-do list running on an endless loop in my mind.
My life opened up allowing room for gratitude, joy, creativity and contemplative thought. I knew I was doing what was best for me because I never got a sense of self from having daily lists and endless places to be. All I ever felt from constant busyness was frustration, exhaustion and a sense that something was wrong. I always felt like I was failing somewhere, work, family, housekeeping, health … I knew I wasn’t one of those moms who could do it all and still feel inner peace. With my new freedom came a knowing that I was on the right path but a path that also left me feeling vulnerable – weak.
Our society values hard work and money earned. Parenting, house organizing, and writing are all jobs that take time and effort, are absolutely hard work, but don’t come with a decent paycheck unless you’re on the New York Times Best Seller list. After a year, I questioned myself. Maybe I should go back to school and get a master’s degree and then a doctorate. But when I questioned further, I knew in my heart it wasn’t because it was what I really wanted to do; it was so I would be able to say I had my masters or doctorate degrees. In my mind I would think of myself as accomplished because I could eventually add initials after my name. I knew in my heart I was a writer but why did I hate describing myself as one or describing myself as a stay at home mom? Lack of courage and lack of sense of self – to put it bluntly.
Embracing vulnerability means being able to live your life the way you know is best despite messages received from society which are really in your own mind. It means having the courage to be happy with who you are whether you’re a person who enjoys being busy and checking off to-do lists or a person who craves solitude, a blank sheet of paper and an open schedule. It means not living by “I should” but living by “I am.” If you are a mom who stays home, knowing it is enough. It means if you are a writer you must be vulnerable and able to tell the truth of your life… your fears, insecurities, dreams, mess ups and victories. Hopefully along the way readers will be able to relate to what’s written and a connection will be made.
I love the following video because of Brene Brown’s openness. I love it because she taught me to tell my children they are worthy of love and belonging, perhaps that was something I forgot in my speeches about grades, getting into college and being successful. Will they be successful if they go through life feeling unworthy of love? Perhaps I have forgotten that lesson because for too many years I have not felt worthy. Ouch. Finally, I love this video because it has made me see the power in vulnerability.