So apparently today is #givingtuesday (yes, I am hashtagging this one. Twitter, folks!). I, like many others, have to wonder where all of these random “holidays” come from. Like, how is there all of a sudden Cyber Monday (talk about a generational creation). Who coined these? Can we chalk it up to the economists of the world creating more excuses for people to spend money and feel ok about it? Who IS the genius that came up with the notion of bleeding Black Friday into Thanksgiving, and how much are those poor employees getting paid? Yes…I wonder a lot. It wasn’t until I opened my email this morning that I learned that someone had decided today was #givingtuesday. I am not going to complain too much about this one, because anyone who wants to argue about giving to people, especially during this time of year…well, that’s just a bit upsetting.
I recently read a book about vulnerability called ‘Daring Greatly’, and it’s definitely sparked some behavioral insights and wanted changes in me. The book discusses how being vulnerable ties into many, many aspects of our life and truly affects our outcomes and, over time, our life. Something I’ve thought about in the book a lot is vulnerability and how we deal with fear. It’s inspiring on so many levels. Being vulnerable is a SCARY thing, we all know that…and not just in the ways that are obvious, like “putting yourself out there.” Brene Brown (the author, read more insight on her TED talks and book here) suggests that being vulnerable is actually a sign of strength, not weakness, in people. I could not agree more.
I think that we as a society have a very strong association that to be accepted and to be emotionally strong, there can be NONE of revealing too much, we must save face, tough it out, etc. He who does not show emotion, or suppresses his feelings, is strong and independent and can never get hurt. Bullheadedness is celebrated. Certainly there is a fine line between acting like an emotional rollercoaster in public or toward others( whoops, guilty) and being genuinely YOU. Giving yourself, your true self, to the world is seen by a lot of people as, well, scary first and foremost, but it is somewhat frowned upon. Think about a time when you first met someone who talked about things that are deemed “too much” for a first time conversation or encounter. Why are we so averse to sharing and receiving certain things that go beyond the surface level? Because we are scared of being exposed. This is where I think vulnerability is actually a sign of strength in a person. They are confident enough, secure enough, and happy enough with their lives to say what they feel. I believe they are also courageous.
In thinking about this #givingtuesday business, perhaps something we can all do more of this holiday season – or me, y’all are on your own – is to really “give” ourselves to the world, to the people in our lives, to the community. Treat others with compassion and LOVE instead of going on defense mode, tell people how you feel instead of sheltering your feelings and what you are thinking. Be completely true and honest with yourself and with others. I’m not talking about going off on that boss or family member or friend who made you angry or annoyed you…I am talking about taking a step back and evaluating just how much love you show others. Think about all of the people you are thankful for in life or that mean something to you (even IF you get annoyed or mad sometimes). How much do you really tell them how important they are to your happiness? Think about your community and all of the things you’ve wanted to do, get involved with, groups you really want to volunteer with, etc. How much do you really act on these ideas? Give your WHOLE self this month. Let your light shine (ok, sure that was cheesy, but you know what I mean). Give BACK to the world, and not just in charitable ways, but in the name of loving yourself and what you have. I truly think this is the most admirable way to be vulnerable. Call your mom, call your best friend, an old boyfriend, send a Facebook message to someone in your life you think about often but may never tell them. Maybe you stay in one Saturday night so you can get up early and go volunteer on Sunday, maybe you donate to that friend who is fundraising but have always deleted her emails. Take time to listen to people you might otherwise ignore, and remember that we are ALL dealing with problems. Maybe that cranky girl that shoved you at the crosswalk just found out some terrible family news. You just never know, so use love instead. It can’t hurt, right?