What Opens Us Up Makes Us Stronger

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” Brene Brown

Winter Dawn in Seattle

I carry this in my pocket now.

A few weeks back, I watched Brown’s TED talk “Listening to Shame.” It’s a good reminder–that playing it safe never gets you anywhere.

Those places you resist going, the times you’re most terrified of falling flat on your face–that’s where you have to show up. And commit. Pull up a chair to the table and say, “Deal me in.”

Exactly where you don’t want to be is exactly where you have to go.

Monday night I didn’t want to stand toe-to-toe with one of my acting teachers, Cobey Mandarino, in front of the class.

God. All I’m there for is to learn how to read my work for an audience. I’m a writer. Not an actor.

Sheesh, people.

But the whole problem is that I’m scared of the audience. In a nutshell, that’s it.

So he got me up out of my seat, and then, instead of pairing me up with a classmate, he stepped into the center of the floor with me.

I had no idea what he was doing at first.

But then, as we got into the exercise, bouncing lines off each other, eagle-eyed for every nuance and shift in facial expression, tone, volume, pose, he quickened the pace. He threw me a couple curve balls. And before I knew it, the audience didn’t matter anymore.

I knew they were there. I saw them. But my shyness softened and then melted from me like caked wax. I’d never met this man before in my life, but he kept me so on my toes it was all I could do to keep up with him. He gave me no time to worry or fear or dread.

And that was what vulnerability feels like. So completely invested in the moment, all my focus homed in on what was coming next–that he shot through the shell and there I was in front of my classmates. Me. Childish, goofy, pushy, confrontational, a bit too self-congratulating–all of it. Right there. 

That’s how I have to read my work. Forget the audience. Be there with my characters. Breathe the air inside the story.

I’m only just beginning to get what Brown is talking about. But it can change your life: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame.html 

Published by M.C. Easton

Novelist and teacher.

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