Today I sat down at the computer and did my usual start up; open GMail, start Tweetie (v 1, computer is too old to run the new Twitter for Mac [sad face]), open Facebook, open Google Reader, open my Start.io page with my comics links. And normally that’s about as deep as that goes. If there’s some funny or neat thing I’ll reTweet or what have you. But today … well it was a little different.
One of the people I follow is Nathan Smith he is a web designer out of Texas. He often posts very good things, but today he dropped a bomb on me. He linked to a TED talk about vulnerability by Brene Brown [twitter, website] (link to video at the end of this post).
I started out just watching the video because it is a TED talk. These talks are a little different because each speaker has only 20 min for the entire talk. There is no going long. This makes the talks more focused and satisfying. But as I watched it the things she said were a bit gut wrenchingly close to home. Her talk was about what she found out from over six years of social research into human connections, what they mean and how they work. Most importantly how to reach that deep sense of connection that we as humans seek. I’ll not go into it too much since she does an excellent job of that in her talk.
Part of why it hit me hard was because she’s a scientist. She approaches the world very much the same way an engineer would. This is important because while I’m not an engineer, my dad was and I have learned and adopted may traits of the engineer mind, for better and worse. The talk could almost have been called “Caleb, this is how you can improve your life and love”.
Growing up in a solid family, and a church that is quite good about loving, this need to “improve” my ability to love may sound a bit odd. But I am fighting an astonishingly deep sense of low self worth. And one of the things that Ms. Brown has found in her research is that shame is one of the biggest blocks to vulnerability, which is the gateway to true connection and joy. And one of the markers of shame is being ashamed of oneself or one’s worth. All the years of teaching that I’ve been given should have helped me fight this years ago. But we humans are quite stubborn when we want to be. And while I never rejected any of the teaching, I’m not certain that I every fully brought it into myself. So now I am in a place where I desperately need to be vulnerable and instead I’m scared and ashamed.
I know that this is not the end. I know I can do better. There are plenty of people who are willing and able to help. But most of all I need to embrace that it is okay to be myself. Who I am is who is loved. When I’m not who I am I cannot be loved, nor can I love in return. And I want to love, I want to connect, I want to give that connection to others.
Now the words of Ms. Brown herself.
Link to video page.