"Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the centre, of meaningful human relationships."

I struggle with a constant mental state of "never enough". I am never good enough. I am never thin enough. I don't mom well enough. Etc, etc, etc. And when I began this book I was stuck. Stuck in a round and round state of negative self talk and comparison for the person I am and the skin I am in. I had been feeling lost. With the kids in school I had found myself lingering in this muted zone, not knowing what my next step is because, honestly, I didn't truly know what I wanted, I had no goal. Sure the idea of doing nothing all day sounds great but in reality it gets old...fast!

This was the first book that I have read from Brene Brown, and my my what an eye opener into the world of vulnerably, shame and introducing an alternative to living our lives disengaged from the world around us.  She is a brilliant researcher who has spent 12 years investigating what people truly think of vulnerability. What they think of shame. What they think is the "right" way to live. And putting years of research together into this amazing book that I can truly say, it has been a privilege to read.

Through these pages I found myself connecting dots of insecurity that I never had thought of before. The fear I do actually have of vulnerability with other people. And that too often I was at fault of "using vulnerability" in a state of desiring people to have pity on me and to attract attention.  Please know, that this wasn't actually my intent, at the time I truly thought I was being vulnerable. Baring my soul to people so they would accept me. But more often than not, it actually caused the opposite affect and those people would then be disengaged from me and my story.

The strong desire to be accepted has always hung over me and the desire to please others has always been at the foremost front of my desires for myself. And so here I am at the age of 32, feeling like the person I am, is lost under years of trying to be everything I thought I needed to be to please everyone. And honestly, I never really let myself try things to figure out exactly what I liked, who I desired to be, and how I desired to spend the remainder of my years.

That being said, I don't regret my life choices to be married to my best friend, to having my two beautiful kids, or for fighting tooth and nail for my daughter during these past 8 years. But I am here, wondering, if I hadn't let myself be constantly tossed about with the desire to belong and to be accepted, perhaps I'd have a better sense of who I am. As Brene puts it, I want to live the rest of my life Wholehearted. I want to know I am enough. That I can rest in the assurance that I am enough. And to not know this with my head, but with my heart.

I have found reading through these pages that I am a safe person. I don't dare to try. I don't bother to even look at something if I don't know that I will be great at it. And honestly, the things I'd say I am good at, well that list is pretty short. I truly don't know how to believe in myself. Somewhere along the line of my life, I got into a rhythm of  "I can't", or to justify my decisions to myself, "I don't want to" or "It's not me". Over and over, I didn't dare step out of my immediate known ability for fear of being a failure. For fear of being ashamed.

Brene talks of how messed up our world view of feeling is. That just as we associate vulnerability with weakness, we take on the mindset that our feelings in general are a liability and should be pushed down and out of how we live our lives. How we as a culture, "rather than respecting and appreciating the courage and daring behind vulnerability, we let our fear and discomfort become judgement and criticism". And guys, this has been so me! I started out my social years being naturally outgoing. Being myself, I was a person who wanted to friends and I wanted to find the "Diana to my Anne",(Yes I'm a BIG Anne of Green Gables fan!). Very quickly though, as I was naturally a vulnerable, outgoing and friendly kid, I was turned down and made fun of starting at a very young age. Earliest I can remember was 3rd grade. The following years I have been the person so fearful of being un-liked, that I would jump on the bandwagon of negativity and judge, judge, judge just to fit in.

The thing is, living like this, never caused me to leave a conversation with joy or hope. It led to deep feelings of regret and shame. And "when shame becomes {the} management style, {our} engagement dies". So the cycle continued. Building up more "reasons" in my mind that I was never going to be enough and that vulnerability was a sham.

Brene has taught me how to see what the long term effects of living life burying my feelings looks like. And honestly, her book nailed me to a T in so many ways. I found enlightenment of not being the only one out there struggling in these areas. That in truth most, if not all, people struggle to live a true and vulnerable life because we all have been taught that it is weakening and that it will cause failure. And in todays culture, the way it has been molded, that may even be true. But, there is a better way, we need honest and real relationships. There is no other way to be filled and to feel whole. To recognize that we are  worthy of a life that is real. And no it doesn't look like everyone else's and yes, you will stand out. But that is a part of being vulnerable in the truest sense. I'm tired of fitting in. I want to belong. But not to the fake sense of those words. I want to live a true and authentic life. The one that God has planned for me, and only me. The one where I am a light in this world.  

Each section of this book is a build up to the next. Helping you actually work through the walls you have built through your past. They set the stage for where Brene is coming from and by the time you are getting to the specific "handling of life" chapters, you have the ground work of what culture looks like and how we can better be prepared in our journey to living a more "engaged" and whole life. By learning to have honest conversations about vulnerability and shame we rock the boat of what's "normal" and expected. And there will be push back. Not everyone will like you. But thats okay.

Now please don't think that reading this book will solve all your problems. It hasn't solved all mine. BUT-it has opened a door and peeled back some more layers of the years and years of grime and destructive culture that I have been surrounded in; todays culture is full of it. The NEED for acceptance has been so much more important to me than the need of knowing myself and being myself.  The idea to dare greatly. To think outside of the norm and to allow myself to try, to be vulnerable with the world around me. To dare to live my life as myself, and to not feel ashamed of this big smile. My desire to be someone more. My hope to be a change in this world around me.

Brene Brown has written this book for the the masses in such a way that you can connect with it on personal level no matter what walk of life has been yours. From someone like me, the stay at home Mom, to the high powered corporate lawyers and business owners.