Side note: As I’m writing this passage, my class is buzzing with conversations. I couldn’t be happier. The act of philosophizing about happiness, vulnerability, and doubt are large topics and words that I have heard over and over again in the last 15 minutes. Here’s how we started:
We have had a fabulous time in Family Studies so far this year. One of my biggest goals for education is for students to leave with a sense of how to navigate their world and all the social spheres that exist within it. This past week we have been looking at the work of Brené Brown and vulnerability, courage, shame, and authenticity. Since our theme for this year’s course is “connection,” Brown’s work is substantial in our understanding of our connections with others and most importantly ourselves. My final parting question with this class was “How does one become worthy of connection and belonging?” In these next few weeks students will be delving into their own experiences and lives to answer this question for themselves.
Before I presented this big question to students, we viewed Brown’s TED Talk regarding the “Power of Vulnerability”:
This topic is very near and dear to me. Anxiety and depression have been a big part of my life, and is a huge part of many of my student’s lives. After having countless discussions and meetings with students and parents about their lives and worries, the importance of a sense of belonging came out as one of their top worries. The sense of being different, weird, marginalized, unsupported, odd, singled out, threatened, outcasted, etc. has a large connection to the concept of vulnerability and having a healthy mindset in everyday life.
Brown’s speech on “Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count” at the 99U conference claims that all of the following dimensions of life can exist in the same space:
I love creating. I love observing how my work, expression, and openness affects others. However, this always comes with comments and questions that often come at a price to my sense of acceptance and belonging. Honestly, at times it is tough. I have navigated through life’s muddy waters, and have to acknowledge that part of life and growing is getting dirty. Students are often surprised when I claim that I receive harsh criticisms from others regarding my work and process. At times, it is difficult to take, but if we take these ideas to heart we may stop creating and living freely. So what do we do to feel okay in continuing our creative process? How do we process criticism and still love what we do and others? These are some of the deeper questions I want students to discuss and take into their lives.
At the end of the day, we have a responsibility to work on ourselves. I would love to see students do this as a practice for their futures. Within the hectic lives that they may face in the future, I believe that this deep reflection and space is invaluable for a healthy mindset and mental health.
A couple large realizations and highlights from Brené Brown’s talks that resonate with me:
“Without vulnerability, you cannot create”
“I am enough”
Reserve seats for your critics. Create freely.