We made it to day 4 of the challenge without skipping a day, drumrolls please! Okay, let’s talk about vulnerability and authenticity.
I have been on a quest to live a wholehearted life since I read The Gifts of Imperfection a few years ago. Living wholeheartedly simply means to live authentically, owning your story and loving yourself through the process.
It is not an easy journey, but it is a necessary one. I have discovered that for me to be authentic, I also have to be vulnerable and that is very scary for me.
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I am currently reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown* and in the book she says, “vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.”
Daring Greatly starts with a passage from a speech which was delivered by Theodore Roosevelt (T.R) in 1910. Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th president of the United States from 1901 – 1909. The title of her book, Daring Greatly is derived from this speech which is sometimes referred to as “The Man in the Arena”.
I found the passage shared in the book to be profound, and one that I keep going back to as a reminder of why it is okay to show up and let yourselves be seen. As you can imagine, I ended up searching for a longer version of the speech. The full speech “Citizenship in a Republic” is rather long but I found a YouTube Video that had my favorite portion and I have replayed it over and over.
How a speech made over a century ago can still inspire so powerfully today is mind blowing. It would be a disservice if I did not share this with you.
The Man in the Arena Speech
“The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twister pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement.
A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities – all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The role is easy; there is none easier, save only the role of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.
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.”
This speech reminds me that it is easy to pass judgement and to watch from the sidelines but the real work happens in the arena. We have to be willing to put ourselves out there, to be vulnerable. Knowing that there is a very good chance that I will fail and still allowing myself to be seen is something I am still learning to do. It is also something this challenge is teaching me to do, to accept that there is a good chance that I am going to fail and still do it anyway.
It is daring greatly, it is living wholeheartedly, it is worth doing.
I hope you join me in daring greatly, will you?
28-Day Writing Challenge Day 4