Be vulnerable, Be the Man (or Woman) in the Arena.

This week I have been inspired by a new quote:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

I found it while listening to Brene Brown who gave a TED talk about the power of vulnerability that went viral and now has a netflix special. In her special she credits this speech as part of her inspiration, so naturally I had to look it up and when I read it I felt like I connected with it on so many levels.

Growing up I was the timid, quiet, shy girl in my class who got so nervous about new things (even the first day of school up until 5th grade) that it would make me physically nauseous to the point where I would be sick. It took me time to realize that new things can be scary, but they can also be avenues to great adventures. I took steps to first overcome my nervous stomach and then took pushed myself to try new things. To face life with no fears and to take chances. I see this as my first foray into “the arena.”

Stepping out of your comfort zone, however small the step, is a step into the arena. It is a step into experiencing life first hand. Sometimes these steps can lead to mistakes, but it is important to keep in mind that mistakes shouldn’t always be counted as regrets and successes shouldn’t be taken for granted. At least you are trying, at least you are living your life and learning along the way. There are people out there who never take a risk, a leap of faith, a jump into the unknown and their experiences will be limited. It is up to you to decide what limits you put on your life, but remember the same goes for everyone else. It is not our place to judge or criticize people who don’t have the same limits as you. You can lead by example and encourage others to broaden their horizons, but it is up to them to do it.

I am still charting my course through life, but I can confidently say that I like where I am at today. Yes there are still changes that I want to make and I expect there always will be, but that is life. I strive to push myself to find what I am passionate about and pursue it no matter where it may take me. Have I had bumps along the way, of course. Are there things I regret doing/not doing, sure, but I try to keep that number down and I try to learn from those so I don’t repeat them in the future.

In reference to the previous quote Brene Brown says:

“Daring Greatly means the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show up and be seen. To ask for what you need. To talk about how you’re feeling. To have the hard conversations.”

This is something I am still working on. Growing up I looked at the word “vulnerability” and hated it. It had a negative connotation in my mind. To be vulnerable was to allow someone inside where they would be able to influence you, make you feel, and have the ability to hurt you. Vulnerability in stories is always shown as a character flaw or the reason a warrior is captured, like Achilles’s heel. So I boxed up what I thought my vulnerabilities were and tried to shut down my emotions, to not let people in. I think in some ways I do the opposite of that today, try to act like I don’t care if you know how I feel or to diffuse tension by putting myself out there as a distraction.

There has to be a balance and I am still trying to find it, but that’s ok because no one is perfect. We just need to have the courage to keep trying to find and be our authentic selves. To live, love, and act without fear of judgement from the audience around us. So to you I say be extraordinary, live life to the fullest, and don’t be afraid to be yourself because the world is big and if the people around you can’t see you for the awesome person you are maybe you haven’t found the right audience yet. Don’t give up, keep searching because they are out there, dare greatly!

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