While I was travelling this summer I read a book that describes my current feelings so well that it has made me think completely differently about it. The book in question is Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. She calls what I am currently experiencing 'a vulnerability hangover'. It's that moment when you open your eyes in the morning and thing 'Why on earth did I do that?' and want to crawl under the duvet and emerge when it is all over. In my case when everyone has commented and gotten over it.
I had a massive vulnerability hangover after writing about my feelings on the failedvote for women to become Bishops in Engalnd. Perhaps I was right to do so as I received some stark criticism in the comments that I was just too stupid to understand the mechanisms of the Church of England and their voting processes. What struck me was that this response was simply to a young woman expressing how it felt to continue to be excluded because of gender in her place of work. That post resonated with people, particularly with other women in my shoes, and I'm not sorry I wrote it.
And that is the nub of it really. That even when it is excruciating to put yourself out there, and writing is where I feel constantly compelled to do so, it is all part of daring greatly. If you hand on heart believe in what you are doing, you are doing so courageously in the hope of a better deal for everybody then vulnerability is just part of the package.
Brene starts her book with this brilliant quote form Roosevelt that deserves to be quoted in full again here.
“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.”
Now when I feel those creeping feeling of fear and wanting to hide I am thankful because I know I have done something courageous. Success or failure doesn't really matter when you are being courageous and as Roosevelt writes both are inevitable at some point if you are going to step out and take risks. Instead it is being in the game, wanting to see change in the broken world and being willing to fight for it. That's worth a little vulnerability eh?