From the Gospel According to Brene Brown:
“Midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:
I’m not screwing around. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go. Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy and lovable, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through your veins. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.“
Like any other pull quote, this is best read in its original piece for complete context. It’s absolutely worth going to brenebrown.com and reading “The Midlife Unraveling.” It’s okay. Go now. I’ll be here when you get back.
That’ll preach, right?
From Arundhati Roy describing the pandemic as a portal and an opportunity to reimagine a new future to this midlife wake-the-hell-up from everyone’s best friend, Brene, I’ve made some big decisions. I’ve resigned my job. Yes, I know, it’s somewhere between a leap of faith and walking the plank. But, sometimes serendipity, God, the universe, midlife, or a meme posted by your pastor, grabs you by the shoulders and points at the writing on the wall in boldface type.
Time is growing short.
I’ve spent plenty of years trying to transform into the version of myself that would fit just right into whatever situation I needed to be in. To use Brene’s illustration, I have several different suits of armor in my wardrobe. None of them fit well and it’s so distracting to wear anything that isn’t comfortable. We adjust the straps, loosen the belt, let out the hem a bit, but it’s still ill-fitting and we know that it’s not the right thing for us, but we make do because it’s what we have.
Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts.
I’ve been on my own as a single mom for a long time, even before my marriage ended. Fear and scarcity have been my motivators and my negative reinforcements for decades. Ensuring financial sufficiency and security has been my top goal and main weapon against what most single moms fear the very most. Running out of money is the monster under the bed. My current position of employment, which ends today, is truly a golden ticket. Compensation and benefits are second-to-none.
All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.
The thing is, no matter how hard I tried, my armor for this job never really fit me well. As the precautions and restrictions from this time of isolation began to ease and life started to reopen, I realized that I had a choice to drop the armor and stop performing. My supervisor was and has been wholly supportive of my choices. That means a great deal.
You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think.
I stepped back into writing after a long hiatus last fall when I launched this blog. I missed writing a great deal. I silenced myself for many reasons but particularly because I worked on a daily basis with several published authors. I read their writing and it seemed so far beyond anything that I would ever write and since I wasn’t confident in my suit of armor to protect me, I stopped writing. That was as bad a decision as a Toni home perm.
Courage and daring are coursing through your veins. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.
I have been told that I am brave for making this decision. I can completely understand where that comes from. However, I think that it is less about courage and more about recognizing that time does not stop and that things happen that shake us to our core.
A couple of days ago, a long time friend and classmate passed away. I learned of his death yesterday. He just had a birthday two days before he died. I have a feeling that this is going to leave a mark and again push me to live my life as fully as possible.
We have seen some extraordinary things, especially since March 2020, that have challenged our world, our country, and each of us as individuals. Things are a mess. I’m looking forward to having to be less cautious about something as simple as having a meal indoors with a friend. There are some enormous challenges we face as a nation and as global citizens and I’m ready to do my part. To me, that looks like going back to nonprofit work and social justice initiatives, raising awareness, doing advocacy, and providing support. I’m not going to conquer these issues myself but I am compelled to do what I can with what I have.
But, as Brene points out, it takes courage to live and love with the whole heart, to allow yourself to be vulnerable. For me, that means writing and working for the greater good. I’ll keep you posted if you keep reading. Here’s to the journey ahead and blessings for whatever comes.