This past Monday, I didn’t just go to a women’s leadership conference because Martha Stewart was speaking; I went because my tattooed fairy godmother graciously bestowed upon me a free conference pass. How could I pass on a pass from my beloved fairy godmother?
In case you don’t know me at all, my wearing a business suit and networking with working women would be highly out of character, even when I was one of them. So, instead, I put on my best jeans, hung out with the lovely women with whom I share my fairy godmother, and immersed myself in a new experience.
I was surprised that the speakers gave me a lot to think about, and I found Brené Brown’s ideas especially compelling. I hadn’t even heard of her, but her honesty and willingness to share about her personal experience made her relatable. Brené (Dr. Brown, that is, with a Ph.D. in social work) believes it takes courage to be vulnerable. Most of us don’t think of these two notions aligning, but I was primed to jump on her bandwagon. And not just because I personalize everything all the time.
I had been stewing over my last post. Did I share too much with all of you? Do you really want to hear that I spent a few days alternating between crying and being mean? After I posted, I wondered if I had sounded too needy or pathetic or just downright nasty. I figured I’d lost a few likability points, at least. But thanks to Brené’s timely insights, I’m trying to let that go.
In my blog, I try to share snippets of my authentic experience with you. I’ve acknowledged that, psychologist or not, I’m fallible, I’m overwrought sometimes, and, despite my best efforts at kindness, I think and occasionally even say things that aren’t so nice. I share these shameful moments with you because I’m trying to accept that even the bad stuff is part of who I am. And I figure that unless you’re perfect, you’ll forgive me that and we can still be friends. Heck, maybe you’ll even be a little less hard on yourself next time you don’t feel like you’ve lived up to your own excessively high standards. Brené has given me permission to treat myself with more compassion, and I’m sure she’d extend that permission to you too.
How do you think Brené will feel when I approach her with an amendment to her theory? She hasn’t considered, as I have, that sometimes we need to let our dogs be our guides. How ashamed did Jelly feel this morning when she decided to eat the soil out of the potted plant we had stupidly placed within her reach? Sure, she may have felt bad when she got caught, but that didn’t stop her from seeking out other mischievous things to do while I cleaned the mess up. And she’s not at all embarrassed that I’m telling you this story.
In case you were wondering, I can’t recount what Martha said; it didn’t really stay with me. She’s the antithesis of Brené, not an smidgen of vulnerability or acknowledged weakness in her. Easter dinner for 55? I’d like to know how many people were in the kitchen with her, and if she was in the kitchen at all. Sorry, Martha, I prefer to hang out with imperfect folk like myself. Any takers?