I’m going to tell a story that’s not my own. It’s one that has affected me deeply and has been a powerful reminder many times, when I’ve been faced with the fear of feeling vulnerable in my life. It’s also a story that embodies what this blog, The New Remarkable, is really about–authenticity, courage, fear, failure, imperfection, challenge, change and as Brené Brown puts it, Daring Greatly. This story  (in my own words) belongs to Brené Brown, who encourages us all to live as our authentic selves.  Brené was getting ready for a work trip. She was with her elementary-school-aged daughter, Ellen and they were running in to Nordstrom so Brené could grab something for the trip. Ellen asks her if they can go to the children’s department to exchange a pair of shoes her grammy had gotten her. Feeling messy and rushed, Brené wanted to say no, but told her daughter, “yes, we’ll do it quickly.” In the children’s department, there were three beautiful women. They were all tall, thin, impeccably dressed with high-heeled boots and not a hair out-of-place. With the three women were their three girls, equally as beautiful. Brené and Ellen walked past them to the children’s shoe department, close by.  There was music playing and while she was picking out shoes for Ellen, Brené noticed a flurry of movement out of the corner of her eye. She looks up and sees Ellen dancing to the music. She was performing her latest dance obsession, the robot, without an ounce of self-consciousness or worry. While Ellen was busy breaking it down in her own world, Brené looks over and sees that the three beautiful mothers had completely stopped what they were doing and we’re just standing there, wide-eyed, with their heads turned towards Ellen. The three beautiful daughters, also focused on Ellen, seemed right on the verge of laughing out loud. In that moment, Brené wanted to say to Ellen, “come on, pull it together–be cool.” But in the back of her mind, she heard a voice that said, “Don’t betray her.” Instead of telling Ellen to stop dancing and move on, Brené looked back at her daughter and, while she admittedly, did not turn and do the moonwalk, she did  bend over and did her own version of the robot and said to her daughter, “awesome moves, have you seen the scarecrow?” I know this story is not my own, but I’ve got hundreds, thousands of instances in my life where I’ve been faced with the decision to “do the robot” or to choose to be someone else; someone not authentically me. Moments like these are not unique to me. On some level, we all experience this pressure nearly every day. But when it’s real to us, that potential vulnerability can feel like weakness. We want our children to feel beautiful as they are, squash that inner critic that we adults listen to too often and for them to make decisions that embody who they are–not who they think they should be. But it’s not about what we want for them–it’s about how we treat ourselves. On a day like today, Halloween, I think about Brown’s reminder to live authentically. Instead of seeing this dress-up day as one where we hide behind the outward masks we chose to wear, we could choose to see ourselves each as that child with the ability to dance like no one is watching. There’s a lot of joy in authenticity but it doesn’t come easily. What we see as courage in others, we see as vulnerability in ourselves. As Brown says, “courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

“It’s not the critic who counts. It’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled. Credit belongs to the man who really was in the arena, his face marred by dust, sweat, and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs to come short and short again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming. It is the man who actually strives to do the deeds, who knows the great enthusiasm and knows the great devotion, who spends himself on a worthy cause, who at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement. And, who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly” Theodore Roosevelt

Photo Cred: Miika Silfverberg

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