Tag Archives: Brene Brown

Wisdom of Story: Reflection 4 Daring to Imagine a Bigger Story

Marc Chagall, Solitude (1933)

Marc Chagall, Solitude (1933)

So, this is the final of the Wisdom of Story reflections after working through this course with Brené Brown and Glennon Doyle Melton (reflection 3 is The Rules which is more of a poetic reflection on the content) and it ended with a profound challenge: what is a community challenge or a global story that you want to write yourself into? This was a hard question because it forced me to think of what are the things going on in my community and in the world, that breaks my heart and to pay attention to that. Where I ended up was highlighted by several conversations I have had over the past weeks and I think it is an area where I need to spend some time both reflecting and creating opportunities to imagine a different big story.

There are so many places where I have seen a growing cultural anxiety paired with malaise in the church, in the communities around us and in the nation. There are so many pieces of this: I believe that we have become addicted to anxiety, almost like a drug, by the continual presence of news and information constantly throughout our lives. Anxiety sells even if it is not an accurate representation of reality- news programs present the worst aspects of the world continually before our eyes and we believe we no longer live in a safe place, even though statistically we are significantly safer than 20 years ago. Like many I have gone through our current election cycle with a bad taste in my mouth because of the ways the candidates have been portrayed. While character matters when elections become primarily about tearing down another person’s character or even demonizing one’s opponent we all lose. I am dismayed by the loss of civility in our public square, where one whose ideas may be different from our own are not only dismissed out of hand but may even be considered ‘un-American’ and in a digital age it is easier to become a troll out to destroy the other person. We live in a polarized and anxious world where there is less of an American dream and more alternate versions of an American nostalgia for a time and place that never truly existed. We become so consumed with work, with taking care of ourselves, with the desire for the next new thing that never quite satisfies that I’m not sure we know what a good life looks like.

That is a huge bundle of tightly wound knots and so how do I begin to untangle it? Well for me it begins with understanding so I can try to imagine a different story. There is a self-reflective component: It will mean thinking critically on my own life and its incessant business and what a good life means for me. There will be a time to listen to other people’s stories and their fears and concerns as well as their hopes and dreams, which is one of the gifts of what I do. As a reflective person, it will also mean that I go back and ask questions both in reading and research but also to question some of the narratives I hear around me.  Honestly not sure where it will ultimately go or look like but I’ve got lots of questions and I’m curious enough to see where they might lead.

Wisdom of Story Reflection 1: The Roles and Rules of the World

When an author tells a story one of the first things they have to do is place their characters in roles and in a world that has rules. The rules and roles will be different based upon the character and the world. A young wizard in a world where magical things are possible will have different roles and rules than an old cowboy riding into the old West. Even within the same world the rules can be different. A private in the army, for example, operates under different rules and certainly a different role than a general. Rules and roles work in a story because it imitates our life. Often the roles we play are second nature, like the feel of clothing on top of our skin that we no longer notice and the rules are as much a part of the environment we live in as the air we breathe.

The rules that we live within are dependent on the numerous roles we play within our lives. Some are gender determined: there are different cultural expectations for men and women. Men are shown from a young age to put their work above everything else (even family), to not express pain or weakness, and that the cultural expected role is for them to be the provider. Some rules come out of one’s place within a family: a young son or daughter should have different rules and constraints than a teenager or a young adult. Some rules come from the organizations and work that one is a part of. In my life the expectations as a military officer and later as a pastor were very different, for example language that was assumed to be a part of the life in the military are no longer considered appropriate in a more ‘holy’ calling by many.

Rules are not bad, we need rules to make sense of our lives and world. However, there are times where they can become stifling. Roles may fit us like a second skin or we may feel like we are continually wearing a mask that covers up our true self. Often these parts of our lives are invisible until a major change comes that changes the rules and roles. Things that we may have assumed to be true about our lives no longer hold up under the stress of the changes that go on within our lives.

So what do we do when the rules no longer work and the role we once played no longer fits. That is where the hard part of the story begins. Much like the people of Israel on their long Exodus from Egypt we may long to return to the places we knew and the security we once had (even though it might have been its own type of enslavement). Yet, in a story this is act 2, the challenging part of the story where a crisis pushes the protagonist to find our something new about themselves. If a person is in that part of their life it doesn’t feel like a story, it may feel like chaos or freefall. Yet all stories have a beginning point, a Launchpad so to speak and the rules and initial roles are that solid ground that retreats away on the expedition into the scary unknown frontier.


These meditations are based upon the Courageworks course, the Wisdom of Story taught by Brené Brown and Glennon Doyle Melton. This is my reflections after session 1.

Living Brave Reflection 10- The Stories we Tell Ourselves

The Storyteller by andrianart@deviantart.com

The Storyteller by andrianart@deviantart.com

The most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our inherent worthiness. We must reclaim the truth about our lovability, divinity and creativity. (Brown, 2015, p. 82)

As a pastor I have learned the power that stories have in peoples’ lives. We all look to different sources to make sense of our lives, whether in popular culture, in religion, in politics, in science and work or in many other sources we are searching for frames and stories that help make meaning of our lives and experiences. We all tell ourselves stories to make sense of our experience of the world and some of those stories are true, others are conspiracies and some become confabulations. As the quote above from Brené Brown indicates frequently those initial stories may be told at our own expense or at the expense of someone else.

A recent, light-hearted example of this story telling at work happened this past weekend for myself and my wife. On Friday morning, during my day off, I was working on the lawn while I had the laundry going. My washing machine was replaced in the past year but my dryer is getting older and I knew from the noises it was making that it was having some issues (and most likely a belt). So on Friday I came in from working outside, change a load of laundry and start the dryer and while I walk away I hear a loud ‘Thunk’ and the drum is no longer spinning. I decided to finish the lawn while I think about what to do next and I imagine several stories (calling someone to repair the dryer, purchasing a new dryer, trying to fix it myself) and so when I finished the lawn I searched on the internet for instructions on how to fix a belt on a dryer. The good news was that there were lots of instructions but there were none for my dryer specifically. I started trying to figure it out, initially with a set of directions that took me in the wrong direction. I invested a couple hours into opening up the dryer until I reached a point where I was stuck. I knew I needed to take a shield off so that I could get to where the belt was but I couldn’t figure out how to do it and I was telling myself several stories. The first story was that I had just made things worse and that who was I to think I could tackle a project like this where I didn’t have any expertise. Surely a technician could have had this project done within an hour. I also told myself that even if I could get this fixed that the dryer would surely not work right afterwards and that I really should just go out and purchase a new one (an expense I really didn’t want to have at the moment). My concerns about finances started to surface at that point (I had an $800 car repair just the week previous even though financially I am OK, it is just one of the things that triggers anxiety for me). I finally resolved that the worst case scenario was that the dryer was broken and that me continuing to take it apart wasn’t going to make it run any worse so I went back, found some instructions that were more helpful and within the hour I had the machine disassembled (with pieces strewn throughout the hallway) and ready to change the belt, if only I had one. The nearest place I could find that carried the part (after driving to a appliance repair parts store that was now closed in the local area) was around 45 minutes away and because I had to pick up my son from school I didn’t have the time to make the trip until after he would be picked up. I had moved through the initial stories, but now came another set of stories for someone else.

So my wife was working that day and around 3:30 I text her, “What time do you get off work?” Now this is unusual text from me without any additional information but she replies back, “4” but I later learned she was beginning to wonder what is going on? So my next text was, “How close are you to Garland?” and she was working from a different location than normally so she asks her co-workers and they told her about 15-20 minutes but she is wondering what is going on and trying to make sense of these two texts. She shared, later,  that she wondered if I had found someplace that I wanted to meet for supper and that maybe I was thinking of a nice date night for the two of us (a good story, unfortunately at that moment not a true one). So when she texted back that she was 15-20 minutes away, my next text gave her all the information she needed for a true story, “Can you go by the Sears parts and repair center at 1617 Kings Rd in Garland. I will order the dryer belt I need but that is the closest place to pick it up.” Fortunately she was a good sport, picked up the part (knowing now that it had nothing to do with a date night and that the dryer had broken) and within an hour of her being home I had the dryer fixed and it was running beautifully and we could later laugh about the miscommunication and the stories that were made up.

Frequently the stories we tell ourselves are not as light-hearted as the one above. I know there are many times where I have taken the limited facts I knew and created a story centered upon my own fears of failure or perceived weaknesses. There are times where I have interpreted the actions of another person in a way that may have nothing to do with their intentions or desires but instead are the remnants or scars from when other people have treated me in the past.  Sometimes the stories I tell are simply not true, or not the whole truth, and I’ve had to learn to challenge the stories, to get curious to see if they are true, to try not to get trapped in a story that sounds an awful lot like my fears and insecurities coming to the front.


Living Brave Reflection 8: Stockpiling Stress




Sometimes your greatest strength has its shadow side. I have always been a very resilient person who is able to keep a clear head in intense and stressful situations. I have high expectations of myself in the way in which I interact with others and try very hard not to offload any emotional or situational stress I feel on them in inappropriate ways. I am very good at being a non-anxious presence and have been able to remain in a more rational space when walking through some of those anxiety filled environments. Yet, you can’t walk through an anxiety filled environment without inhaling the fumes and having the fear and the worry enter into your lungs and pass into the bloodstream. You can’t bear other people’s burdens without a way of unburdening yourself and dealing with your own stress and anxiety. You don’t engage anger or fear without the endorphins which prepare your body to fight or flee flooding through your system leaving their residue remaining in fiber of your being. Yes, there is the healing power of removing oneself from the stress and letting the body work the toxins out of its system. There is the incredible healing power of exercise, sleep, good diet and conversations with trusted friends, of being in places where you are accepted and nurtured. But if you are like me, the longer you remain in the environment the more your stockpile stress and the less attractive the very things that would bring healing appear. I am good at pushing myself to the point where my body finally begins to react to the stockpiled stress and emotions and then begins to plead its case in various ways to force me to slow down or to make changes.

Perhaps I am more aware of this after 2010 when my body reacted to years of dealing with chronic stress by triggering a number of reactions both physically and emotionally. There were a number of standard physical signs-carrying tension in my neck for example, but also others which I didn’t realize until later. During 2008-2010 I suffered a number of very painful cramps in my legs that prevented me from running for significant periods of time (one of my primary stress relief outlets) which partially were due to not replacing shoes often enough but I believe were also aided by the amount of stress I was bearing. Emotionally I began to suffer from panic attacks, had trouble sleeping and drifted into depression.

I have attempted to become better in listening to my body. Granted, I’m no longer in my twenties and my body doesn’t respond to physical and emotional demands in quite the same way but I am still a pretty resilient person. Yet, with that resilience can hide the weakness. The belief that I can continue to push past my limits or endure things that may be unhealthy or violate boundaries that I need to recharge and rejuvenate. I’ve learned that often my body is the canary in the coalmine, the indicator that once again I have been stockpiling stress. So perhaps it is time for a warehouse sale, to open the doors and clear out all the crates.

Living Brave Reflection 7- There Is No Going Back…

There are experiences that have shaped who I am in various ways. Even though there are parts of my life that were painful and difficult I feel very fortunate to live the life that I have lived. Yet, there is no going back to the person I was prior to any of those points.  Sure, I can romanticize the past occasionally, thinking back to a simpler time. Yet, even if you could turn back the clock I am a different person than I was. There really is no going home the same way as you began your journey. The road has changed each of us, and for me I can be thankful for those changes.

I would have never chosen to be color deficient and be denied the ability to fly (which was my life’s ambition through middle school and high school) or to be able to utilize an appointment to the Naval Academy (which I worked hard to receive), but it led me to being a part of the Corps of Cadets and the band at Texas A&M and a whole different set of experiences. I would have never chosen to receive Chemical Corps as a branch when I graduated from college and was commissioned into the army, with a civil engineering major I was planning on either the Corps of Engineers or a second choice of Armor. Yet, it put me in positions with people who helped form me as a leader and probably made it easier for me to accept my calling to enter seminary. I would have never chosen to have my son diagnosed with autism, and at the time of the diagnosis I raged at the injustice of it and the broken dreams that I had for my son, yet I have learned more from him than I could have ever imagined and as a 17-year-old young man I am proud of what he has accomplished. I would not have chosen going through the experiences of conflict in a congregation that I did in my second call and the amount of emotional and personal upheaval it caused, yet I would not be the person or pastor I am today without that experience. I would not have chosen to be denied entry into PhD programs multiple times during that same period but it forced me to find my own avenue for creative activity. I would not have chosen to see my marriage of 13 years dissolve no matter how much effort, work and love I poured into it, but without that painful experience I’m not sure I would have rediscovered who I am or been ready for the relationship that I am very happy to have with my wife of almost a year. The list could go on and on, for there are countless experiences that formed me to be who I am. Each time I had to make sense of the change and figure out a way forward and there are gifts from each experience, even when they may have been heartbreaking at the time.

Yet, because of each of these experiences I am a different person than I was before. Because of that I see things in a new light. There have been times where I have been told to ignore a part of my story because it didn’t fit where I am. It took me a long time, for example, to reconcile my experiences of seminary and my experiences in the military—they felt like two pieces of a story from two different lives. Each experience was very different and forced me to be able to engage the paradox that is life and the beauty and complexity of the interaction of the stories that shaped me, the experiences of the present and the hope and challenges of the desired future at any time. I am thankful for the wide range of experiences that my forty-three years have allowed me. I am the man I am today because of this journey.

Living Brave Week 6- Manifesto

So for the final exercise of the first have of the Living Brave semester which closes out Daring Greatly, we were challenged to create a manifesto to help us stay true to our core values. I put mine together next to one of my favorite mythical creatures, the phoenix, which reminds me of resiliency, resurrection and new beginnings.Slide1

Living Brave Reflection 5- Some Ways to Effectively Shame an Introvert

Smoke 1

I have been a pastor for almost twelve years and prior to that I had a career as an officer in the U.S. Army, both of these fields are frequently dominated by extroverts and require a level of social interaction that can be challenging for an introvert. Yet, both of these careers have times where individual learning is required, deep soul searching decisions need to be made, creativity is valued, and, especially in the leadership role, can be lonely places. There are a lot of gifts I brought to both of these vocations and yet there is a set of criticisms I’ve heard throughout my life that came to the surface reflecting upon the strategies of disconnection that were discussed in session five of the Living Brave class which Brené Brown has been leading me and many others through.  I could talk about the ways in which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable, but what stood out to me this time was the way the same set of comments made me feel disconnected and in that place of shame, and how the other person probably never thought about the comments in the first place.

Introverts are not shy, insensitive, cold, reclusive or any of the other adjectives that frequently get associated with introversion. Introverts draw their strength from inside and from reflection rather than from interaction with people. For many introverts, social functions may be enjoyable but extremely draining at the same time. They have probably been taught that their introverted nature as a personality trait is “somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology” as Susan Cain can voice in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking. Many, like myself, have invested a lot of energy and effort into becoming more social, in trying to learn how to interact with a noisy and often superficial world. They may feel uncomfortable mingling, but they learn how to do it anyways. They engage a world that is designed to fuel an extroverts need for continual stimulation by retreating for long enough to recharge and re-engage. They bring incredible gifts of creativity, the ability to listen deeply and a storehouse of knowledge gained from both reading and reflection. Many, despite their best intentions to blend in are singled out as not quite fitting in with the rest of the noisy crowd.

The following are not scientifically validated but rather come from my own experience as an introvert in extrovert dominant fields. They are things that create strong shame reactions within me because they highlight the disconnection that I may already feel in various moments. Especially in times where I have made incredible efforts to be social and engaged, expending immense amounts of social energy, hearing comments like the following make me, and I would guess others as well, want to retreat to a safe space, lash out or hide behind a social mask that is more extroverted than I may feel:

  1. If only you were a little warmer, relaxed, less serious. This is one of those I’ve heard many times and every time it is painful. More painful than it should be. I remember I was once going through an evaluation where many extremely positive things were said and then this was my area for personal growth. For all the work I had put in to being outgoing this made all the previously good things disappear in my mind and had the critic in my head going for several days. I am a very kind hearted individual but for many reasons I am not a person who will ever be carefree, happy go lucky, or bouncy. I can fake those things for a short time but it feels really inauthentic to me. I am the person you want in a crisis because I don’t get rattled easily but the other side of that is that I don’t get excited over small things. Yet, the comment reminds me that for all my efforts to fit in I have somehow failed to live up to the expectations of others.
  2. You are such an intellectual. On the one hand, when did being an intellectual become a bad thing. I get what the comment is trying to say, that I can live in my head and I am comfortable thinking things through academically and find it interesting. Frankly, I like that I can have internal conversations with authors and books and ideas and it helps me think. I also understand that most people are emotional beings who occasionally think rather than thinking beings whose emotions sometimes drive them. I tend to be more comfortable in the rational, intellectual space like others are in the spontaneous, emotional space. I also understand that we are living in an anti-intellectual culture that thrives as much on charisma as it does on substance. Yet, the comment still can be a shaming one. It drives home the reality that as engaged as I may want to be that I do not fit in. I may have attempted to adapt how I talk about something to a level I hope others can engage and it is a comment that highlights to me that I have still failed in that endeavor.
  3. Why can’t you be more like ______who is an extrovert. We all have times where we are compared with someone else in an unfavorable light. Comparison takes one quality in you and compares it with what may be the best quality in someone else. To be honest, I’m probably my own worst critic on this one. It is easy for me to compare myself with others who relate to others seemingly effortlessly while it frequently involves work for me. I spend more time with the issue of comparison in my previous Living Brave Reflection.
  4. Intentionally or unintentionally excluding from conversations. We all seek connection, even though it may be more challenging for some. Sometimes introverts feel very alone in a room and feel like they have to break in to the conversations that are already going on around them. Most find a way, but it helps to be invited in to a conversation. There are situations that are just easier for extroverts and sometimes it just takes the willingness to see the person nobody is talking to, invite them into a conversation and then allow them to be themselves. Many people know what it is like to be the one on the outside of all the conversations and it is a place that ultimately none of us want to be. We all seek those connections and a sense of belonging.

Living Brave Semester Reflection 4- The Challenge of Comparison

By Ivana - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=486540

Inside the Roman Amphitheater at Pula, Istria region of Croatia By Ivana – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=486540

In 2007 I applied to several schools to enter a PhD program in New Testament. These were all really competitive programs like Duke University and Emory University but I felt really good about applying at that point in my life. I was a young pastor who had done extremely well academically in my Master’s degree, I had three years of ministry experience (required in my denomination), I had been given an opportunity to teach with a seminary professor a joint presentation on ways of reading Paul and I felt like this was supposed to be my calling. When I received the notifications from each program that I had not been accepted I took it pretty well. I knew the congregation I served had just undergone a massive upheaval and probably needed the stability I was providing and I figured it was just not the right time. A couple years late it was time to apply again, this time to a new set of schools-perhaps less elite but still really good schools and I figured I met the entry criteria for their doctoral programs. It was a time where I was looking for a way out of my current, highly stressful calling (same congregation as earlier, but after a lot of dealing with conflict) and I just felt like this was what I was supposed to be doing. When the letters came again saying that I had not been accepted it hit me to my core. Somehow, in my mind, I no longer measured up. I was constantly comparing myself to those who had been selected, those who had the academic opportunities or credentials. I wanted to be what I was not.

I had to rediscover who I was, I had to become much more of a scrapper. On the one hand, as a pastor I have always been well respected but for many people that was the only arena they saw me in and I wanted to engage that academic side. Life circumstances changed which made this even harder and I had to make some challenging choices in the years that came afterwards. It wasn’t until 2012 that I really began to experiment with writing again and over the past several years I have discovered the joy I get out of it and the gifts I have for it. Yet, there is always that self-critical part of me that compares what I have done with others.

Brené Brown talks about the box seats where the ones who set the rules for the arena sit. For me this was occupied by the academics, particularly those I had respect for. I felt like my own ability to write and contribute had been denied because I didn’t have the correct pedigree or degrees. I know this was as much a limitation I placed upon myself by my comparison of myself with the image I had of them. I’ve gotten a lot better but I still place myself continually in comparison with the best attributes in others and often forget about my own gifts. I still at times feel like I am having to ask for permission to have a place in the arena, but I’m getting better at moving past the comparisons, as unrealistic as they may be, and enter that place. There are times my own internal voices take me back to that time when I heard those who occupied the seats that I felt could allow me entry into the academic arena told me, “my voice was not needed in that place.” Well at least that was the message I received.

When I look at what I write, I am proud of it. I am proud of both the volume and the quality of what I have written. I have also enjoyed the freedom to engage a number of projects that are very different. There may come a time when I need to focus on my work being seen in a larger way, but for now I am writing and learning and that has made a world of difference. It may be a smaller arena, but it is mine, and for now I can be proud of the work I have done and show myself a little grace and compassion without needing to measure up to someone else’s standards.

Living Brave Semester Week 3- Speaking Back to The Gremlins


The discussion this week on empathy and self-compassion takes me back to the tension between by competent, competitive and driven side and the gracious side of me that is willing to be self-compassionate and fair with myself. I have worked for several years on learning to be more gracious with myself and others and a part of this struggle is wrestling with those internal gremlins that point out all the places where I have fallen short, where I have not lived up to my own expectations (as unrealistic as they sometimes are) or I have perceived my own weakness. It wasn’t surprising that when I took the Self Compassion inventory designed by Kristen Neff that my two highest (negative) scores were on self-judgment and isolation. When I feel weak or like I have failed the internal gremlins interpret my own actions in the worst possible light. Even though I am normally a very confident person, in those moments I do tend to isolate myself until I can get past the messages in my head. Recently I’ve learned how to speak back and to lean into that gracious side of my values to get to a more honest place with myself.

I had an experience last week where I was dealing with several frustrations and my language towards myself was becoming accusing and settling into the patterns of self-judgment that I learned at some point in my past. I was getting ready to go into an event where I would have to do a lot of mingling and introducing myself to people I didn’t know, initiating conversations and all of these energy intensive things were coming at a place where I was already exhausted by the trials of the day. I had worked through the issues, I had a solution, but I was frustrated, I knew that the solution in a different situation could have been easier and cheaper and my internal gremlins were comparing the action with the best possible solution and, of course, I was being measured and found wanting. I sat down and began to write out the things I was saying to myself and the accusations I was making and then I responded to them. My responses were from a place that I would speak to another person, how I would respond to them telling me these things after working through the same situation. That helped to me to hear a more gracious voice and to acknowledge that in a situation with a lot of stress away from home I had worked out a solution. I had reached out and sought help, something difficult for me to do, and the process of working through those feelings in a kinder way helped me be in a better place to engage the day. It also helped make clearer the number of issues that I was wrestling with and how in many ways I was already in a place where a lot of healing was occurring.

I will probably always be hard on myself. I will probably always have those critical questions come up and attack me at the points when I feel weak, but part of my own practice of self-compassion is learning to speak back to the questions. To not allow my drive for competence to lose the value of being gracious to myself and others. To embody this in the practice of writing down and responding to these questions in a way that is more grace filled and realistic. I’ve learned how to be empathetic with others and I am learning better how to be more empathetic with myself.

Living Brave Semester Reflection 2- Vulnerability Anthem

I guess I just got lost, being someone else…

So this ended up being another reflection on the final exercise of this week’s part of the Living Brave Semester where we were supposed to choose an anthem for that time before we are honest and enter into the arena where we share who we are, our thoughts and our dreams. Something that prepares us mentally to show up and be seen. When Brené Brown started describing this exercise the song that immediately came to mind was Let Me Be Myself by Three Doors Down.

I had the opportunity to see Three Doors Down in concert last November in Carrolton, and I have enjoyed their music for several years but this song was always one of my favorites, but I think particularly because it came into my life in a time of a lot of changes. There was a time where I felt like the first line of this song, that I had become lost being someone else…fitting in with all the expectations that others had placed upon me. I felt in many ways like I was living in different roles, my role as a pastor, as a husband or father, as a son or an older brother, and while I knew how to play all the parts well I felt more like I was fitting in than truly belonging in many of the roles. There were many parts of myself that got pushed further and further behind the masks that I wore in each of these roles (masks that said what was permissible and what was not) and the reality was I lost track of who wrote the script for each role. The crises that came with leaving a congregation, going through a divorce and letting go of a dream (I reflect on the divorce part of this here, here and here) forced me to re-look many pieces of my life. In a very fertile time of rediscovery and difficult work I learned an incredible amount about myself and rediscovered parts of myself that had been abandoned in the midst of living into the expectations of all of these roles. The reality is that being able to be honest about who I am has made me a far better pastor, person, father and, now that I have re-married, husband.

The chorus of the song states
Please, would you one time
Let me be myself
So I can shine with my own light
Let me be myself
For a while, if you don’t mind
Let me be myself

And while it may seem incredibly absurd to have to ask for permission to be ourselves, I know I can relate to the lyrics at this point (and throughout the song). Yet, the song also reminds me of the difference between where I was and where I am today and when I start to fall back into patterns that are designed for fitting in rather than belonging I need to be reminded of the cost of not being myself. There will always be places and times where we keep our opinions to ourselves, keep healthy boundaries and share pieces of ourselves with those who have earned it but I also have learned the cost of not being able to share who I am-because at some point you begin to get lost being someone else.