Wanna join the Feminest book club? Of course you do. ;)
The first Tuesday of every month, I'm selecting a feminist, business, or self-help book to review for that month. And, rest assured — if I'm featuring it — there’s something you oughta know!
This month I'm covering Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown and here are my review in 4 takeaways.
Takeaway #1 - You belong everywhere and nowhere
“You are only free when you realize you belong no place - you belong every place - no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great”. - Maya Angelou
This is my new mantra when I walk into a room and I don't feel comfortable. Or I'm looking for a place to sit at a networking event. And it works.
I felt like I didn’t belong when I entered into entrepreneurship, I just told myself “No, I'm not an entrepreneur, I just like to take ideas and run with them”. I felt like I didn’t belong when I started consulting “what do I know?”. I felt like I didn’t belong when I went to a networking event for bloggers and they were all taking pictures of their latte’s and not really talking to one another. I felt like I didn’t belong for a period of time was I was a Mormon and I felt like I didn’t belong when I left Mormonism too - especially ordering coffee and wine, “uh, a pinot, please?”. I felt this when I moved to Australia and have been making a home here. But this quote - is everything to me. It gives me the confidence to walk anywhere and know - I don’t belong here - I belong everywhere. Wow. Beautiful.
Takeaway #2 - Language is powerful
I talked about in my working mothers post how the term needs a rebrand and that the semantics matter. But Brené takes this topic of language even further in how important it is that we don't refer to people as animals and aliens as it then dehumanizes them. I watched in Ken Burn's The Vietnam War documentary recently, (which should be mandatory viewing for every American) the soldiers talk about how they didn't kill people, they killed "gooks". Sure you can say that words don't matter, but they do, so much so that it can make it easier for someone to kill another.
In the midst of the white house separating families at the border this video of DHS Secretary Nielsen denies separation amounts to 'child abuse' came out and she kept using the term "alien". After reading this chapter in Braving the Wilderness I couldn't help but comment. See the amazing response I got below:
Takeaway #3 - Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil.
Brené talked about how she was brought up going hunting with her family, how they respected the animals, and were taught gun safety. She then expressed her frustration with the National Rifle Association (NRA) on not putting any parameters around responsible gun ownership and it split families like hers where her parents supported the NRA but as a college student she couldn't. Of all the lobby organizations she's studied, Brené said that not one has done a better job using fear and false dichotomy as the NRA with using "they" and "us vs. them" language over and over.
She told a story about how she was talking to a group of women about how she and her father were looking forward to teaching her children how to shoot skeet. One woman looked horrified and said "I'm very surprised to hear you're a gun lover, you don't strike me as the NRA type" Brené said "I'm not sure what you mean by gun lover or the NRA type" the woman then said "If you're teaching your child how to shoot a gun then I'm assuming you support gun ownership and the NRA"
Brené right away saw this for what it was a false dichotomy - if someone supports gun ownership then they support the NRA. Brené then said "you're one for two in your assumption, I do support responsible gun ownership, I do not in anyway support the NRA just because I support responsible gun ownership." The woman looked mad and confused "but with all the school shootings, I don't understand why you don't support gun control" Brené was frustrated, and then said "I absolutely do support common sense gun laws, I support background checks and waiting periods, I don't believe it should be allowed to have automatic magazines or..." the woman was so angry at this point she then said "you either support guns or you don't" Brené then mustered up the most empathy she had and said "I know that this is a hard and heart breaking issue but I don't think you're hearing me I'm not going to participate in a debate where the issue is reduced to you either support guns or you don't. It's too important, if you want to have a longer conversation about it, I'm happy to do that and I wouldn't be surprised if the same issues piss us off and scare us." The woman excused herself and stormed away.
Brené said "it's not always the happy ending from some movie but I'll take it if it's real." Brené felt alone in the wilderness but that was okay and that ultimately the most important thing is that she didn't betray herself.
I don't think you can take a more divisive topic for an American and Brené broke this down in such a beautiful way. It was very powerful for me and I won't ever forget it. We're all complicated and can push one another into one of two political camps.
Takeaway #4 - Belong to yourself.
I'll just end on this beautiful quote by Brené:
“True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.”
It doesn't get a full 5 because I found myself wanting more from it in the end. Although it was jam packed with goodness - it felt rushed, I can't quite put my finger on why or how it didn't feel quite complete or full, but it just didn't.
This is a great book for anyone who is needing a little reassurance when venturing into the dark and a fresh view on grim politics and polarizing conversations.
Next month I'm featuring The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success by Darren Hardy (because it's recommended by my friend and talented coach T-Ann, watch her video on it here!)! Read it with me!
Have a book suggestion? Let us know in the comments below!