Like many others, I’m a big fan of Brené Brown. I have been devouring her books and talks for years while nodding my head in agreement and solidarity. Vulnerability, yes! Courage, yes! Shame resistance, yes!
Recently, when I was finishing her book Daring Greatly, I tried to recall an experience when I allowed myself to be vulnerable in the pursuit of courage, risked disappointing people, and resisted the presence of shame.
My mind went blank.
Sure, I’d had plenty of vulnerable conversations before, but when I had ever left from the safety of my seat in the audience and jumped in the arena to risk everything?
It would be as if someone called themselves a Christian simply because they agreed with everything Jesus said but did nothing to live out His teachings. Can I agree that we should love thy neighbor as we love thyself? Sure. But what good is that if I don’t actually feel and show love for my neighbors?
This started with asking some tough questions.
What is one thing in your life you keep the most private? What is one thing you’re incredibly passionate about but equally terrified of what other people will think? What do you regularly create that never sees the light of day because sharing would feel too vulnerable?
The answers for me? You’re reading it right now.
I’ve been writing (stories, books, essays, poems, lyrics — you name it) since I was six years old. Aside from academic papers for professors, only close family and friends have read my writing.
I recently turned 26, which means there are years of work and language and art and perspective that the world has never seen. I’ve been sitting in the audience watching and admiring people in the arena, thinking “Good for them. Maybe one day.”
But the problem is that this is a cowardly and selfish way to live. It’s like claiming to be a Christian without working to love all people. It’s saying you want to see vulnerability from others but not showing it yourself. It’s agreeing with a movement but staying silent. It’s simply useless. A permanent seat in the audience costs us all far too much.
Who are we to withhold the things that light our fire? Who are we to decide that the talents and passions etched in our hearts aren’t good enough for the world?
It’s time to get up from our seats. It’s time to look fear in the face and say “I see you. I hear you. But I’m doing this anyways”, knowing there might be some booing critics or — perhaps even worse — a silent audience. There are risks, but rest assured they’re not greater than the ones taken by avoiding the arena.