Published February 27, 2020
I’m not exactly known for being succinct – in neither verbal or written words. I process and think out loud and words come naturally to me. One of the biggest challenges for me is packing my words into short, deliverable sentences. Packing a punch in a few words that I could easily remember was a challenge when writing things like affirmations, goals, and summaries. Sometimes, I do tell ridiculously long and silly stories. I remember my track team in college asking me to add “Then I found $20!” to the end of my long-winded stories that probably had absolutely no point, but hey, sometimes I’m just having fun! [#noregrets #thisisme]
Really though… It’s fun to play with thoughts that bounce around my mind. Most of my random thoughts and streams of consciousness end up on my Instagram captions (hence the spelling/spelling mistakes that probably flood my captions, despite my nerdy love for grammar). I’m really good at getting my word count up, but pretty shitty at getting it down (removing the word “that” has helped a lot… does anyone else use that word excessively when writing?! What is WITH that?). Also, I am 100% a verbal processor. I like to think out loud, working through my thoughts as the rise and fall in my mind. Anyways, I want to write a book one day, so I’ve gotta have enough words to fill a few pages, right?!
The challenge I gave myself with this NEW DECADE (of the 2000’s and OF MY LIFE) was to package all my lessons learned in the last ten years into TEN lessons. A decade of lessons from the last decade. How fun! Well, true life, this has been way harder than I anticipated. My brain has been buzzing with things I’ve learned, but the process of dissecting my experiences and what they’ve meant to me is a way I grow. I am a reflective and reminiscent individual with a scary strong memory. For this, I am blessed.
It’s absolutely WILD to think about all the changes in the last 10 years. Since 2010, I’ve earned two degrees, lived in three states, and moved about 19 times (from what I can count!). I’ve lost and gained friendships, relationships, and loved ones—intentionally, unintentionally, or tragically. My personal growth can be attributed to increasing alignment with my internal compass, comfort with discomfort/uncertainty, faith, and courage. My ability to grow is also, in large, because of my support network and being surrounded by love wherever I am. I feel so very, deeply LOVED.
I know this is only the beginning of the lessons life (and God!) has in store for me. I cannot believe my thirty years on earth have revealed so much truth. What a beautiful journey it has been. I am enveloped in a blanket of gratitude and love as I walk into another decade of life.
Okay… I think that’s enough of an introduction, huh? Here we go! The TEN lessons I learned in the last TEN years.
Oh… and this is only lesson number one because, ya know, I don’t think you want an 11-page post. (Yes, that’s how long the Microsoft Word document I have is. And I haven’t even finished yet… ooops. Anyone need a thesis statement on what I’ve learned from my time on Earth so far? Probably not. Figured I’d try!)
(Spoiler Alert: one of my lessons is not being more succinct… I’m planning to keep my word count up fo’evah!)
01: Growth Takes Courage
As a woman with insatiable thirst for knowledge, growth is something that comes naturally for me. I seek experiences that teach and help me to expand. I am introspective and inquisitive—recognizing I could never know everything. To quote the Socratic paradox, “The only thing I know, is I know nothing.” This gives me motivation to keep learning and growing.
Yet, there’s some areas of growth requiring more courage than others.
Having a willingness to see the TRUTH in the world within and around us requires courage… and a LOT of it. It’s not easy to take ownership of our experiences and work through negative emotions, relationships, and thoughts. It’s so much easier to smush it all down, crumple it into a ball of old newspaper, and throw it in a wastebasket (or recycling bin) in the depths of our mind. It’s easier to just keep moving forward pretending we can dust off our shoulders and there will be no truth to face.
I’ve had to get REAL with some experiences. With my optimism, I’ve brushed some things off I should have faced head-on. Yet, my shame for feeling negatively about someone/something made me push it down. I didn’t have the courage to stand on my two feet. I would tell myself that I was silly for overreacting, overthinking. I would forgive before being asked to be forgiven. Eventually, this all caught up with me in my late 20’s. I realized some friendships were not reciprocal. Some relationships were toxic, leaking into my mind and body, poisoning my thoughts with negativity. I felt trapped in a web of toxicity because I didn’t understand how to climb out. I started remembering early life experiences with friends where I truly felt small.
To me, feeling small is the essence of shame. It’s disabling, really. There’s a degree of worthlessness that comes with this (I know we’ve all been there). It can be something minute—someone misunderstanding us. Or, it can be quite large—someone mistreating us verbally, emotionally, spiritually, physically. All shame is equal. All shame is painful.
Yet… all pain can heal. All shame has its anecdote. The poison can run its course, but we can stop it. This lesson is the HOW: through COURAGE.
Eventually, I realized I could get myself out of the hole. Over time, I knew the hole could only get deeper if I didn’t gather the courage to grow. Not just to learn, but to learn deeply – about myself, my limiting belief systems, emotions, and experiences across my lifespan. With the blessing of having early memories, I have found great value in understanding my past. (SIDE NOTE: Anyone who poo-poos Sigmund Freud’s belief that early childhood has great impact on who we are quite silly and probably in a little denial.) With the aid of my support system, counselor, and willingness to see the truth, I’ve not only built a ladder out of the hole, but I’ve climbed far above it. I can see everything in the hole from above. I know that there will be moments I feel like I’m falling back into the hole again because that’s only human.
I definitely learned the most about growth through courage in reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. I think this was the first time I really read about “shame” as well. I understood it and it deep in my heart. I opened the book and carried it with me everywhere. I wrote courage with two hearts next to it on the inside of the front cover. The title page says “life changing” and I put more hearts around “wholehearted living” and “thank you” on another page.
So yeah, I liked this book a lot!!! (10/10 RECOMMEND DARING GREATLY BY BRENÉ BROWN!!)
Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.
We all experience shame and “because shame is a social concept—it happens between people—it also heals best between people.”
Gosh, it’s just SO true! I’ve found my courage in walking through shame with a tribe. I can call one of my close girlfriends on any given day and they’ll tell me when someone is being a jerk (“PG” friendly there) or tell me they’ve been through what I’m experiencing. We seek to understand each other because we want to build each other up, give each other courage to slap our limiting shame in the face. We climb out of our holes by connecting. “Empathy is connection; it’s the ladder out of the shame hole.”
We are never alone.
Every day, we are growing and evolving. Our bodies and minds are constantly shifting, both in response to our surroundings and as emotions rise & fall within us. Sometimes, we shift in response to negativity, sadness, adversity, and other challenges. This can feel weak, small, and vulnerable… and it can hurt. Yet, when we find the people who can hold us and support us in those times while we muster enough strength and bravery to move on through the mud, then we all come out stronger and braver.
What It Means to Me
Growing with courage has meant so many things to me.
It means challenging limiting belief systems.
It means being vulnerable, showing up, and being seen.
It means owning my part of the story, climbing out of the messy depth of shame and unworthiness.
It means admitting when I’m wrong.
It means looking at the past wholeheartedly and being willing to unpack the ugly stuff.
It means feeling all the negative emotions: anger, sadness, disappointment. I am really good at being uncomfortable in physical challenges (i.e. rock climbing, skiing), but have to work sitting with and fully feeling negative thoughts and feelings.
When It’s Easy
It’s easy when there’s no shame involved. When I am feeling confident and free. When there is clarity. When I have someone to talk to, hug, and feel comfort/love.
When It’s Hard
It’s hard when things aren’t yet clear because it takes so much work to push through our biases, limiting beliefs, and learned responses. It’s hard when the silver lining isn’t visible, the suffering is too great, and we can’t seem to find the hope. Yet, courage is found in our rising. It is when we get up from our falls, dust ourselves off, and end up stronger than we were before.
As Carl Jung said, “I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”
Continuing the Courage
I will accept comfort and support to continue growing. If I am honest, I have always thought I needed more discomfort and uncertainty to grow. I believe in getting outside our comfort zones to challenge ourselves, push our limits. Yet, I now know that a certain amount of COMFORT is necessary to grow—to have the courage to truly, deeply grow. I now disagree with the notion that “Growth and comfort do not coexist” (Ginni Rometty). Comfort feeds our souls, prepares us to grow, and gives us courage to do so. I love this quote from one of Alan Watts’ talks:
…the whole of Western thought is profoundly influenced through and through and through by the idea that all things, all events, all people, all mountains, all stars, all flowers, all grasshoppers, all worms—everything—are artifacts; they have been made. And it is therefore natural for a Western child to say to its mother, “How was I made?” That would be quite an unnatural question for a Chinese child, because the Chinese do not think of nature as something made. They look upon it as something that grows, and the two processes are quite different. When you make something you put it together, you assemble parts, or you carve an image out of wood or stone, working from the outside to the inside. But when you watch something grow, it works in an entirely different way. It doesn’t assemble parts. It expands from within and gradually complicates itself, expanding outwards, like a bud blossoming, like a seed turning into a plant.
Life gives us people that challenge us, strengthen us, and give us courage to grow. I look forward to where we continue to grow together because, together, we are ALL winners.
Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times.– Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
With love and gratitude,