Caption: Pack Forest 7/25/15
As Heidi Breeze-Harris so bluntly put it, “You’re getting way more out of this than you’re giving.” At our DukeEngage dinner with her, Heidi articulated a lot of the things I’ve been struggling to name for the past few weeks: frustration, guilt, uncertainty, and exasperation, along with small victories and personal discoveries. After having founded a small nonprofit herself, it comes as no surprise that so much of what she said about the industry resonated with me. I loved her humor and her pragmatism but most of all I appreciated her candor. It was refreshing to hear someone being frank with us and wanting us to do the same in return. What use is it anyway to recite only the ironed-out, smoothed-over versions of our experiences? Don’t we lose something valuable when we do that? Now that it’s week five and we’re acutely aware of the challenges and shortcomings of our work, that honesty is especially useful.
Learning how to be vulnerable isn’t easy. I even read an entire book earlier this summer about how difficult it is. And yet vulnerability is essential for healthy relationships. It’s tangled up with confidence, authenticity, and courage. I’m still working through my own vulnerability and far from an expert on the subject, but Brené Brown, author of that book I read, actually is an expert. I highly recommend both Daring Greatly and her TED talks, this one in particular. Brené has said that vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage. I don’t know if others did too, but I saw a lot of both this weekend.