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 mind.
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.
I was homeless. Unless you’ve hitchhiked barefoot in a sundress after getting kicked out, I struggle to hear or relate to your tips on vulnerability. This isn’t to disqualify the struggles of the middle, upper and super upper classes; your pain absolutely counts. Please stop comparing my history of poverty and complex trauma to your shame for having it easy. This is life. None of us get out alive. The struggle is real. Our struggles are just different.
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 me and my strength? I didn’t 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 flipped 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 or believing they must know something we don’t; they’re right, good, best. We’re dumb, helpless, wrong because we’re not 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 classes wasn’t considered valuable until socially sanctioned experts grabbed hold of the word resilience and figured out how to profit from it.
Taking advice from Brenè and people like her make me feel like I’m betraying my own wisdom.