Confession. I am not a Brenè Brown devotee. I felt sick every time I heard her name and didn’t fully understand why until today. So many people, including Oprah, adore her. If Oprah likes her I should be more open to the experience, right? Turns out I have my own thoughts, perspectives, experiences and a clinical license to support my intuition.
Yesterday I listened to twenty minutes of her Super Soul interview. I’ve read parts of her books and squirmed through her Ted-talks, finally realizing my aversion: we have different definitions of the words Fear, Brave, Survival, Courage and Vulnerability.
This is life. None of us get out alive. The struggle is real. Our struggles are just different. Bravery and vulnerability look very different for anyone who is not a white, cis gendered, able bodied, heteronormative privileged American person.
Part of our long-standing divisions are likely the result of our inability to see ourselves and each other. I see you. And your pain. But I wonder, can you see us and our strength? I didn’t until see my own strengths until now because all I’d ever done was compare myself to you and attempt to fit myself into the mold your ancestors established. The same mold we endorse and perpetuate every time we fail to step outside and question it. I’m questioning it. Maybe you’re not qualified to speak for me? It doesn’t mean we can’t look for common ground; we could probably learn from each other. Our fears and strengths are opposite sides of the same coin. About time we rewrote the script.
Heads or Tails
The voices of authority on subjects like Fear, Bravery, Resilience, Vulnerability, Confidence are not voices the majority of the population can relate to and yet we’re subject to considering them as our experts. We willingly join their fan or book clubs as part of playing nice, wanting to belong, to reconnect as a primal function of healing from trauma, believing they must know something we don’t; they’re right, good, best. We’re dumb, helpless, wrong because we aren’t them. They bare all the markings of culturally dominant success. I still don’t own a chair. The resilience of the masses remains historically invisible in the grand shadow of the ruling class. The inherent strength of the exploited masses wasn’t considered valuable until socially sanctioned experts grabbed hold of the word resilience and figured out how to profit from it. I refuse to buy their t-shirts and mugs on the principles of self-respect.
Taking advice from Brenè and people like her make me feel like I’m betraying my own wisdom.
Update: I continue to revisit and rework this piece. Thanks for permitting me the space to evolve.