“Connection is why we’re here, it gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” ~Brené Brown Ph.D.
July 7, 2013
I have failed. I was unsuccessful in achieving my goal. I fell short. These are the words that keep running through my mind as I contemplate once again, starting over. I had anticipated teaching in the Middle East for the next two years, at least that was my goal and, in fact, the contract I signed. However, 5 months in and I have failed miserably. What next? I can’t even bring myself to change my employer and the city in which I reside on my Facebook page; because once I do, I will know for certain that I have failed.
Several months ago, a very dear friend sent me an inspirational Ted talk with Brené Brown, Ph.D. “Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame. Brené’s 2010 TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability is one of the most watched talks on TED.com, with over 8.5 million views.” Not only did I watch it over and over, I downloaded it and saved it to both a CD and my hard drive. I just knew I would need to listen to it again one day. Dear Readers, yesterday was that day.
So back to the whole, “I have failed,” thing. How does admitting that I failed make me feel? “Just fine. Thank you for asking.” Hardly; it’s excruciatingly painful. And what makes it even more so is that I failed on a public stage. Can I be any more vulnerable? This was about the time that I sat down to watch Brené Brown, again, instruct me on “daring greatly.”
As I watched the video, I kept a running commentary in my head. Brené reminded me that the ability to feel connected to others is why we are here.
“But who wants to connect with a failure; I am so ashamed.”
And her answer was, “Shame is the fear of disconnection. Shame makes us think, ‘Is there something about me, that if people see it, I won’t be worthy of connection?'”
“Yes, yes! I failed. I so wanted to teach in the Middle East; I had so much to offer. But, I failed. I can’t believe I’m telling you this, I am so vulnerable right now.”
To which she responded, “In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, to be excruciatingly vulnerable.”
She went on to say, “Fully embrace vulnerability. What makes you vulnerable, makes you beautiful.”
“Come again? Isn’t vulnerability weakness?”
“No. Vulnerability is courage.”
Huh, vulnerability is courage. I hadn’t thought about it like that. But I guess she is right. I was extremely vulnerable leaving the comfort of my family, my friends and my country to go teach abroad. That took courage. And I was also vulnerable when I began posting my life on a blog. That took courage. And it is because of these two things that I have connected with friends and family that I normally would not have. I am where I have wanted to be all of my life: fitting in. I am connecting and I am fitting in. So, this is what it feels like.
And because she knew I was ready to hear it, Brené gave me one last pearl of her wisdom, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, love, creativity and belonging.”
She is so right. Looking back on my “failed” five months, I realize that I experienced joy and love on a scale that is unsurpassed. And certainly my creative side has blossomed (who knew I could write?). And it has been through my writing that I have come to know a sense of belonging. All of this, courtesy of vulnerability.
Ok, so I failed. And chances are, I will probably fail again. But my life is a success, I am a success. I can pick myself up, dust myself off and get ready for the next adventure that is my life. Failed or not, I, dear Readers, am living a wholehearted life.