Authenticity and vulnerability

It’s been a rough week and I’m not sure why. My morale has been low, I’ve been carrying a lot of anger around with me, and I’ve been taking it out unnecessarily on those close to me. I’m sorry. But yesterday I woke up and actually felt better. It’s been a week of waking up feeling groggy and achy with a headache, feeling confused and out of sorts and highly irritable, but Monday was different. I felt light, energetic. I felt motivated to push forward again. I Got Stuff Done.

Over the past year or so I’ve learned a lesson that I suspect most people learn when they’re young. When  I’m down I have to drown myself in positivity to bring my spirits back up. This is definitely a new learning for me, as I’ve spent much of my life thinking that if I searched hard enough and did the right things and picked the right job and looked right and and and…that I would reach a point where I became happy. I’d be a happy person, and to me that meant that I’d feel happy all the time…like I’d just wake up and feel happy. I think that is not realistic. What I am realizing is that being happy probably won’t be something that just alights onto my shoulders like a pretty little songbird. It is something that I have to choose every day. actually, it is something that I have to choose in every moment that I realize I am making a choice and taking an action. In every moment I want to, I have to, choose happiness. Choose compassion. Choose to let the tendrils of anger slip away instead of grab hold of me by the throat and choke the delicate happiness out of me. Delivering pizza is actually a decent test of this. Whenever I get a small tip, the temptation is there to think “what a jerk.” And sometimes I let my brain go down that road. But more often, I just choose to not let it bother me and instead just hold onto my pleasant feeling. I choose to be there to deliver to each person a very short human interaction where I look them in the eye and smile, maybe share a little pleasant small talk. I make an effort to ignore the money. It sounds easy, but it sin’t always easy. What I would like to incorporate more is mindfulness in the moments when I work. In between deliveries there is a lot of down time and it means that I sit in the pizza shop in the smoky greasy air looking at Facebook, watching the tv or doing anything I can to just check out so I can make the time go by faster and go home…to sit on the couch and look at Facebook or watch a movie…it’s kind of ridiculous when I think about it. So mindfulness at the time when I really want to switch my brain off.

I also started listening to a new audiobook yesterday. I’ve been listening to Brian Tracy audiobooks like The Science of Self-Confidence and The Psychology of Achievement and 21 Ways to Get the Job You Want, and they are really great. They’re encouraging and give some really great steps to take in order to make goals, set them and achieve them. There’s much more to the books than just that, but it’s a sum-up. Anyway, I’ve been listening to these self-improvement books and lately I’ve been wondering ‘where are the self-improvement books by women? Where are the books by women on how to empower myself as a woman?” I feel that as women we are fundamentally different than men (duh) and while I believe that action and forward motion a go-getter attitude are great and useful and things I want in my life, I feel like these are all very masculine approaches to life. I want to read about great women who are successful and have them tell me the steps they took to gain their success. I don’t want to be a woman learning men’s rules to play the man’s game best so I can achieve success in a man’s world. That won’t authentically represent who I am because I’m not a man. What I hope to find is a whole new approach to life, a way to live authentically and express my femininity and be successful in my own way. But first I have to create a picture of what this means to me, because the broad definition of success that is widely accepted by society is, I believe, has colonialism as its most basic foundation. Whomever accumulates the most wealth, resources, offspring is the most powerful and wins. These are things that are completely uninteresting to me. I don’t need to accumulate material possessions to feel successful. So the question is, what do I need to become successful? How do I achieve that success in a way that is authentic for me and allows me to truly be who I am in all ways? Since I’m in a new state of freedom, what pieces of my life serve the person I want to be, and what pieces do I let go of? And most important, how do I be the most authentic expression of me every day? Seems like authenticity is an important notion at this point.

So as I was saying, I’ve been listening to a new audiobook, Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. So far (I’m only about 3-4 chapters in) this audiobook is well worth the $18 I paid for it. I was reluctant at first to pay, because my money is extremely precious right now, but I’m glad I did. Brene Brown is a successful woman and she has become even more successful through her honesty and authenticity, through her discussions on vulnerability, despite the fact that she admits she hates vulnerability and is terrified of it. The book shares some of the research she’s found through her PhD, but also shares her personal stories, and in that vulnerability she is strong and admirable. These are qualities that I see as successful and that I want in my new picture of life. Honesty, vulnerability, authenticity. Acceptance of self, though self is messy and imperfect and nothing like I wish it to be. Another audiobook I’ll listen to once I’m done this one is Lean In, the one that became such a sensation recently. I tend to have skepticism about things that are sensational and Lean In is no exception, so I’ll read it. At worst, it just won’t fit for me. At best, it’ll give me some take away value.

I’m tired of typing now, and I feel that this post lacks a little focus, but I also just wanted to write. So I’ll end this blog post with those questions for myself. What is my definition of success? How will I know once I’ve achieved it? How do I move towards that success in a feminine way, in the most me way possible? How can I be authentic every day? What can I do every day, in every moment, to choose happiness while also accepting and allowing other equally authentic and equally valid emotions?

Life is complicated. I have a lot of work to do!

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