Bravery, Vulnerability, and Belonging

The last few posts that I've made have been fairly introspective and personal, here's another. If this is not your thing, carry on. If it's why you read blogs and you have been waiting for me to finally write something like this, then hang on for some vulnerability and more non-technical words with unqualified opinion.

What I have observed around me lately is that there is a great feeling of exhaustion, and exasperation. People are carrying a lot of stress, including myself. We need to find ways to express our feelings without harming others, in fact doing so while supporting others.

I've been meditating on it for a while, here are some thoughts. They're incomplete, but… well, you'll see that's part of the point in this post.

Ditch the haters

First is the toxic hate-storm that is social media. If you've read my post about Rule 5 you'll understand that I think web 2.0 is pretty bad. This blog deliberately has no comments, I avoid Facebook (as much as I can), and I block YouTube comments when I'm watching that. I have a Twitter addiction that I'm still fighting, but I've blocked the trending on the right-hand side at least (using uBlock's element zapper), and I Mute and Block dickheads without hesitation or mercy. This helps me a lot.

It is so much easier for people to get their serotonin kicks from bashing others online than to actually add creative input into discussions. Perhaps I'm being unfair to web 2.0, the Internet just magnifies it much more than the Letters to the Editor or Opinion columns in news papers. After all this behavior has long been observed:

“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, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the 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

If the critic is not in the arena, then their criticism is invalid, so I don't care. It's not that I don't care what anyone thinks, just what these morons think. The people who I do care about are people who love me, and who I love.

Bravery and vulnerability

Second, it's time to be brave and vulnerable. I know, it's tough.

When you're brave in your life, you're going to get your arse kicked, you're going to know heartbreak. But you go in anyway.

When you're vulnerable, you're choosing to show up, and to love life when you can't control the outcome. It's uncertain, risky, and uncomfortable.

In the dictionary, love is a noun, but really it's a verb. One of the most important actions to take is to risk failing. Risk looking dumb or being rejected, or taking the wrong path, or losing.

People say "oh, I love my job", or "I love that person". So actually love them. Risk failure in your work by choosing the path you believe to be correct, and acting, even when you're unsure. At my new job we call that a "low level of shame", but the sub-value extends more to being comfortable exposing your imperfect work, especially in Support: it means to be vulnerable and freely admit and ask for help when you don't know something.

Something that I'm currently working on is loving my work enough to actually buckle up and do the core responsibilities of my role, even if they are less engaging than the extracurriculars.

Will you tell that person you love the difficult thing that you need to? Because that is what Love is.

That's what Life is.

I choose to engage in living

Are you feeling low-energy? You aren't alone. Right now everyone I speak with feels the same. We've had a tough time, and continue to. Last week I did very well, this week not so well. Energy levels are very transient right now.

We should all acknowledge that, and have the grace to give ourselves some space to grieve the changes and the loss. I know I've been struggling to do so. I reason that my life has had some upheaval, but on the whole it's not so bad when compared to others. But it's not nothing. The more that I suppress this, the worse things get.

Belonging to a tribe

Belonging is speaking for yourself first, being who you are, not "fitting in".

I think that we hold back from exposing our selves out of a sense of forboding: will I be accepted? Am I "good enough"? It's also a bit like we are afraid to enjoy being in the tribe, because rejection hurts so much. To combat the fear of joy (always foreboding), practice gratitude. Don't be too busy taking the risks and chasing the awesome moments, to not take in the everyday. This morning my son took the time to go out on our beautiful front deck and watch the sunrise, appreciate the crescent moon low in the sky above it, and feel the cool breeze on his bare feet. He's grateful for this common experience and embraces it, and got up to see it. I find that inspiring.

Sunrise at home
Sunrise at home

Don't end life with a bunch of "what if"s.

It took me about ten days to finish writing this post, and I'm going to take my own advice and publish it now.