I Need an Adult!

Before, I thought that being an adult meant being 18. And that was it. That was the definition.

Over the past few years, though, I had added a few more criteria to what it means to be an adult: Have a job. Like your job. Be good at your job. Be able to pay for things yourself. Have your own place. Be able to cook for yourself. Be active. Take care of yourself. Do taxes. Host dinner parties. Be in relationships that aren’t stupid.

Basically, being an adult = having your shit together.

But I’ve discovered that quite a few 20-somethings don’t have their shit together, including myself. It’s frightening, but soothing at the same time. Hey, this person doesn’t have it figured out! That sucks, but at least I’m not the only one. Yep, it’s a comfort to know that adults don’t feel like adults.

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Imposter Syndrome, Part Three

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
– Marianne Williamson

I made a post on Thoughtful Minds United about not feeling good enough. This is something that everybody comes across at least once a year. For me, it’s about once a month. (Whenever I don’t have a job, it happens once a week or more often.) Before, I had thought that this was abnormal, that I was still deeply insecure about myself and my (in)abilities. Now, after reflecting on this imposter syndrome and how common it is in people, I don’t think that feeling inadequate once a month is wrong. That’s the thing about feelings: they’re never wrong.

Sure, they often suck. Feelings are pretty damn awful and can get in the way of you living your life. But feelings are a part of life and you need all of them to live a full life (as you find out in Inside Out – great movie!). The unpleasant feelings are especially good at letting you know what’s actually going on inside your head, or in your subconscious, or in your heart or soul. Are you feeling insecure? Maybe you’re really afraid of taking a risk in your career. Are you feeling lonely? Maybe you’re sad that you haven’t made a meaningful connection in a while. Maybe you’re afraid of getting hurt if you try to make such a connection.

I find that fear is often an underlying emotion, at least with me. It takes some digging, but whenever I get pangs of loneliness or inadequacy, I discover that they’re both fueled by fear. I’m afraid of being alone and not being understood or loved. I’m afraid of not living up to the expectations that others have for me or to the dreams I have for myself. And fear is a powerful thing.

I’ve even felt afraid of what will happen once I make more changes to become that person I want to be – even if it means becoming a better person. Yes, I am afraid of being great. I am afraid that I’ll be so successful that I won’t be myself again and I’ll lose my family and friends.

So what happens when fear takes over?

You meet it with curiosity and patience. You don’t hide from it, push it away, or bring another emotion to distract yourself from it. Because it’ll still be there to haunt you until you fully and authentically acknowledge it. And when you do, you can learn from it. You can push on, walk run crawl go forward – as long as you keep going. You can take breaks when needed. But giving up on finding that fulfillment and holding on to it? Not an option.

Easier said than done, obviously, but I’m working on it. Are you?

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

The Power of Vulnerability

I finally watched Brené Brown’s TED talk called The Power of Vulnerability, and I can’t remember the last time I had eagerly taken notes, lecture-style, and wanted to absorb the information I was gaining from her speech. I absolutely needed it and loved it and agreed with it.

Here are the notes I had taken, and each one is an important bit of insight about vulnerability:

Shame = fear of disconnection = “I’m not ______ enough.”

The less we talk about shame, the more we have of it.

Shame is universal… and if you can’t feel it, you are not humanly capable of empathy.

In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen.

Underlying shame is excruciating vulnerability.

Brené Brown wanted to beat vulnerability into the ground. She wanted to defeat it. She was the type of person to want to overcome seemingly negative and unnecessary things in order to prove that she was better and above those things. I found this part so interesting, since I have to admit that I’m kind of the same. This is something that I know we’re all working on. Pema Chodron said to meet these negative emotions with softness, because they’re absolutely necessary parts of our lives and inner working. (This also reminded me of the movie Inside Out, when the audience comes to the beautiful realization that sadness can lead to empathy.)

People who possess a sense of worthiness – as in they have a sense of love, belonging – believe they are worthy of love, belonging. They have courage (what Brown specifies as having heart), compassion, and connection (what she specifies as authenticity). They fully embrace vulnerability (and realize that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful) which they found necessary.

Brown says that there are three things humans do that are dangerous:

We numb vulnerability (through obesity, addiction, etc.). …But you cannot selectively numb emotion – when you numb the bad things (shame, grief, etc.), you numb the good ones (joy, gratitude, etc.).

We make the uncertain certain. With religion, we have made this into a belief of being right/wrong; with politics, we have made blame a way to discharge pain and discomfort.

We pretend that what we do doesn’t have an effect on people.

She ends the talk by suggesting that we practice 4 things:

  1. Let ourselves be seen, deeply and vulnerably.
  2. Love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee.
  3. Practice gratitude and joy.
  4. “I am enough.”

Let me know if you have seen this talk and learned from it! 🙂