Tuesday, February 5, 2019

daring greatly {chapter 2}

You guys, I LOVE BRENE BROWN. Like admire her so much. I have all her books, have been reading her for years, and I'm so excited to share from Daring Greatly. It's a book I've read over and over and have bought over and over - because I lend them out and obviously it's amazing and so I don't get them back, but whatever! Everyone should have a copy!

Chapter two is all about debunking vulnerability mythes. There are four of them:
  1. Vulnerability is a weakness.
  2. I don't do vulnerability.
  3. Vulnerability means letting it all hang out.
  4. We can go it alone.

For the sake of brevity, I'm going to focus on the first, with some implications for teaching practice/living a great life. She begins with, "Vulnerability is a weakness." I love how in her research, she asked people what vulnerability is. Here are some of their responses:

  • Asking for help
  • Saying no
  • Starting my own business
  • Saying I love you first and not knowing if it will be reciprocated
  • Hearing how much my son wants to make first chair in the orchestra and encouraging him while knowing that is's probably not going to happen
  • The first date after my divorce
  • Exercising in public, especially when I don't know what I'm doing and I'm out of shape
  • Presenting my product/art/writing to the world and getting no response
Then she goes on to ask, "Do these sound like weakness?"

Because that's the thing. It feels vulnerable to do these things. But it looks like strength from the outside. She writes, "But there's no equation where taking risks, braving uncertainty, and opening ourselves up to emotional exposure equals weakness."

Then, in her research, she asked, "How does vulnerability feel?" Check out these responses:
  • Not sucking it in anymore.
  • It's where courage and fear meet.
  • It feels so awkward and scary, but it makes me feel human and alive.
  • Sweaty palms and a racing heart.
  • Freedom and liberation.
  • It feels like fear, every single time.
  • Panic, anxiety, fear, and hysteria, followed by freedom, pride, and amazement - then a little more panic.
  • Letting go of control.
And the answer that appeared over and over? Naked.
  • Vulnerability is like being naked onstage and hoping for applause rather than laughter.
  • It's being naked when everyone is fully clothed.
  • It feels like the naked dream: You're in the airport and you're stark naked.
Brene writes how we love to see vulnerability in others, but want to mask ours. About the crux of the struggle, she writes,
"I want to experience your vulnerability but I don't want to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me. I'm drawn to your vulnerability but repelled by mine."

So what, how does this all play out in life? Like, in my life?

Let's start with teaching. Vulnerability is opening my classroom door to anyone who wants to come in. Vulnerability is telling my colleague or principals that I don't know how to do something. Vulnerability is telling the kiddo I just yelled at that I was wrong, and I'm sorry. Vulnerability is running a teaching Instagram and Twitter because I want to share my teaching life and connect with others, knowing some will look at it and think I'm full of myself. Vulnerability is letting others lead the way. Vulnerability is leaving a messy classroom and saying to myself, "there will be time tomorrow to clean this up." Vulnerability is going to my social worker, in tears about a student, saying I just don't understand their behavior, and listening as they remind me of how different disabilities play out in a classroom setting. Vulnerability is taking a mental health day. Vulnerability is running a reading and writing workshop, where the teacher has less "control." Vulnerability is moving on from a school that doesn't serve you anymore.  Vulnerability is confronting a colleague about a boundary they crossed.  Vulnerability is making your eighth grade students sit in a circle and share their highs and lows, appreciations, and plans for the weekend. Vulnerability is writing this blog post.

A little more personal? I'm 38 and single. Vulnerability is writing that, right there. We live in a society that shows us what I "should" be at this age, married, with kids. Except it hasn't played out that way for me, yet. Vulnerability is me telling you that I'm okay with that, because I have amazing friends and family in my life, and that I really enjoy my time alone, and that actually, in 2018 I met a bunch of cool guys, and that it just didn't work out for a various set of reasons. Vulnerability is me telling you that I'm not going to get all bent out of shape about it because I'd rather be focused on drawing good things into my life, that if I were to obsess over this silly little fact, I would only draw negative energy. (Vulnerability is me telling you that late 20's-early 30's I WAS all bent out of shape about it.) Vulnerability is me reminding myself, "Well, it only takes one right guy," and reiterating it to my best friends who are also my age and single that same is true for them. Vulnerability is me knowing that parts of this paragraph are justifying this little detail about my life, but I acknowledge that and yet, leave those details here anyways.

From a different angle? Vulnerability is doing the thing that many don't understand and/or approve of. Like, being a consultant with a Multi-Level Marketing Company. The one I love is Arbonne. Vulnerability is asking people every day, "Hey, has a friend told you about Arbonne?" knowing that many people laugh at me behind my back (or maybe even get at me about it to my face.)  Vulnerability is consistently putting myself out there in a way that many don't understand and most judge. Vulnerability is telling myself every day that it's okay to move forward with Arbonne, because although I can only see the first step of this journey, there's a huge staircase ahead of me that have the potential to yield amazing opportunities.

So why did I tell you all that stuff? Well, because this:
Because I want to live a life on fire. I want to feel loved and love on others. I want to create amazing possibilities in my future. I want my students to know that I don't know everything about life/ELA but I do love the hell out of them. Same for my colleagues and friends and family. Life is too short to hide. I'm not about that. It's scary, but I'm just going to let is all hang out.

This is a book EVERYONE should have on their shelf, and when you do, you can go on to read about the three other vulnerability myths, too. Tomorrow, check in with Sam about Chapter 3 of this book, Understanding and Combatting Shame.

And before you go, how have you been vulnerable in the past week? Or, how might you like to try and be vulnerable this week? Leave a comment and let's share the love!

Much love,


  1. Boy, oh boy! You certainly hit the vulnerability jackpot with this post and I LOVE IT! Way to be brave and tell it how it is. That's real life. That's truly being seen, Michelle. Thanks for daring greatly on a daily basis. Your courage is contagious! ;)

  2. Love your post! Thanks for sharing all your insight!

  3. UMMMM THIS POST IS TOO PERFECT! I REALLY HOPE BRENÉ STOPS IN TO READ IT! Just by the way it's written I can tell you are a "practicing" Brene Brown fan. This is the kind of vulnerability that she talks about in her book. This is why when I became a principal I knew I needed to center my culture around the book and VULNERABILITY! The 2nd chapter was incredibly enlightening to me bc of the whole, what vulnerability looks like versus what it feels like. I was literally like..."Duh Diona! Come on she is just so right!" Anywho, I really enjoyed your post a lot! Thank you for being a lead literacy guru for all of us in D100 and for always being your real self! I appreciate you and I especially love your writing! Bazz~

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