The End (of 2012).

I have felt punched in the gut lately. 

My mind and body have kind of been hibernating I think. I also feel very disengaged, which has been hard to get past. 

I’ve been reading Daring Greatly, Brene Brown’s newest book. Ever since I saw her TEDxHouston talk, I’ve been a big fan and really think she’s onto something with her work. Vulnerability may not be weakness and coming at things from a place of shame is certainly not the best way to approach living. Getting to that place though, is very difficult I’m finding. 

The title of the book derives from this Teddy Roosevelt Quote: 

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.” 

Inspiring words. I am trying hard to get into the arena, but don’t feel like I’m one who’s present  in the arena very often. 

In reading her book (I’m half way through), I keep reflecting back on times when I just haven’t shown up in life. Too many to count. I do remember the night in middle school after a bad day where I was bullied (a recurring thing, from multiple people in my school career sadly) when I consciously decided to disengage; to go Vulcan in a way- never showing emotion if I could help it ever again. And I largely not present for many times since then. Being invisible works as a high school survival strategy (and later led to a pretty profound depression), but as Dr. Brown points out, it also means missing out on joy, love, innovation, change and boldness. That decision, accompanied by perfectionism really impaired my learning

I am now trying to dare greatly. And be more uncomfortable more of the time; it’s where growth and learning take place. simply, I am trying to do something. I’m still not sure what it is I’m doing or what direction to go in, but more vulnerability can only be a good thing, even though it’s hard. I hope I haven’t gone too Vulcan; cold and logical without access to my emotions. Feeling like I’m ‘enough’ and lovable as is, is difficult for me to pull off. 

I know I have emotions, as they will come up strongly in this holiday season; they always do. Listening to a podcast on my long drive back from Thanksgiving weekend, I had a brief crying spell when I heard something that triggered an ‘I’m alone’ feeling in me; those get me every time. 

While the “Mayan Prophecy” (sarcastic quotation marks) predicts the world will implode in a few weeks, likely there will be a 2013. I hope it’s a year when I dare even greater than this year (I have shown up a little more this year and made some small decisions. And I hope it’s a year where Ian3.0 gets released. I’m learning to use a new computer just now. Is there something you want to do in 2013? Want to dare greatly with me? 


Author: Ian Street

Ian is a plant scientist and science writer relating stories of plant science and scientists on his blog, The Quiet Branches as well as other outlets. You can find him on Twitter @IHStreet.

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