As a person who has an online presence and blog, I’ve taken and watched these workshops led by the leading successors in the field of online leadership. Online marketing guru Seth Godin knows what it takes to succeed online and it’s formulaic. I took notes, screenshots, and saved it all in my head. But there’s always something missing for me and it’s been bugging me. Why can some people just roll on and demand the attention and achieve the success unapologetically while the rest of us have our feet stuck in the mud and our mouths open in shock. Vulnerability isn’t that easy.
After a few more years of reading, challenges, and listening to what I write, I think I may have a clue. It’s about apples and oranges, men and women. About societal programming and unfairly comparing myself to others.
First, Brene Brown’s brilliant work on vulnerability brought me an understanding of how we are all hard-wired for connection with other humans which makes our number one fear, disconnection and the rejection that leads to it. I recognized how many of my fears were coming from a fear of being rejected and outcast. I’ve lived this rejection and it’s very painful. I’ve internalized this rejection and visited it upon myself. In rejecting my true self daily, it’s not a stretch to imagine others rejecting me. So, vulnerability and the truth equates to death by ostracization.
Secondly, as women, we are programmed to be “good girls” doing what’s expected. We get good grades, act nice, and conform to the norm. We keep our visibility to a minimum because being out loud and truthful about ourselves and our desires is in direct conflict with being good and doing what’s expected. A self-created prison surely. And it shackles us. It’s just another nail in the lid of our silence.
I know that when children became part of my life soup, their care became so primary, I somehow knew I was supposed to subjugate my needs for theirs. Their survival meant I was secondary. That makes no sense and, yet, it was basically understood. It was part of that good programming. Because their survival depends on me being accepted.
Men are driven to succeed. Numbers and winning and proving something. If you aren’t worried about being scarlet lettered for your outrageousness or being the one responsible for the lives of the children, family, or the elderly, you can be bold. If your needs are primary, you can be vulnerable. But somehow innately, there’s a nonsensical message that says you need men and the world to like you to survive. Do not upset the apple cart and everybody lives.
I’ve come to understand that being truthful to myself and the world makes me invincible. That it allows for others to have permission to tell the truth. That it models authenticity to our children. But those old scripts are embedded like weeds with enormous roots in our soul gardens. And as I see the patterns, I am shifting, renovating, rewriting, and weeding my life so that I can be free to roam out in the sunshine instead of hiding in a dark cave. I know that each person has their own path they need to follow to their truest self. Only I can define what that is.
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