Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. Brené Brown
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling with what to write in this blog. Now that I’m teaching, I have less time to ponder, write and revise my entries and after five months of entries, I feel dry, with nothing to write. But, I got the message from several sources, just keep writing. I knew that if I stopped writing this blog this week, it would be easier to make an excuse next week and the next and then stop writing it all together. So, I resolved to write something even if it was bad.
Then two things happened. I asked for help in my journal, because I was stalled on my novel as well, and I watched Dr. Brené Brown on Oprah’s Lifeclass. Ideas about my novel started coming to me and keep coming, and I was reminded why I started this blog in the first place. I started it because of Dr. Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection.
One of the things she writes about in that book is how to practice vulnerability. We think of vulnerability as weakness, but it’s actually strength. When I read that, I knew she was talking to me personally. We moved a lot when I was a growing up and I got used to being the new kid. I didn’t like having all the attention, because I was new in small towns where everyone had known each other since Kindergarten. So I practiced being in the background. Oh, I always had lots of opinions about what was going on around me, but I rarely voiced them. If I did, it felt weird and I felt apologetic, like my opinion didn’t matter. The truth of the matter was, I didn’t want to be vulnerable. I didn’t think what I thought mattered, I didn’t think I mattered.
I’m older now and have done lots of personal work learning to love myself. Interestingly, I’ve sought out careers and situations that have forced me to use vulnerability a great deal. For a number of years I was involved in theatre, often as an actor. Then I was a teacher, I’m still a teacher, and now I’m a writer.
You can’t get much more vulnerable that those activities. I know many teachers who don’t practice vulnerability, but to be an excellent teacher you have to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable allows your students to be that too, and risk asking dumb questions, or exploring and expressing their ideas. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with our educational system. Not enough teachers are vulnerable. I just thought of that as I was writing it. That could be an entire blog post on it’s own.
Having been an actor and now a writer, I can say that the process requires me to dig down into my soul and bring out my deepest experiences to create the work. That’s not easy, it not comfortable and it takes time and effort. I often fail, or at least don’t quite hit the mark. That’s okay. I’ll never hit the mark, if I don’t try. So, I’ve decided to keep writing, even if it’s not my best work. I’ll just keep going.