In my Living Brave semester course (taught by the wonderful Brene Brown), we’ve finished up with the first book, Daring Greatly, and are now moving on to Rising Strong. But as a part of kind of tying up Daring Greatly, Brene asked us to write our own manifesto, our declaration of who we are and how we want to live our lives.
When first presented with the empty space in which to write my answer, I fumbled and wasn’t sure what to put there. I was running a little behind on the assignment (luckily for me we were on a 2-week Spring break), so I looked at the forums and comments to see what other people were posting, feeling a little like I was cheating, but looking for some direction and inspiration. And what I found there indeed was inspirational: hundreds of students publicly posting their hearts for all to see, beautiful and unique to them.
I didn’t find anyone’s answer that I could copy (dammit!), but it did remind me that everything I needed was within me — I just had to listen, which isn’t always the easiest thing for me. So, I turned off the TV, did my best to ignore the snoring dog, closed all the browser tabs that led to all sorts of wonderful places on the internet and mentally reviewed everything I had learned the course up to that point. There was so much, but it all led to this.
And so I started writing. Haltingly, then more fluidly. It didn’t end up being long — despite my penchant for writing (and over-writing!), I wanted this short and concise, with laser-focus. And then I let it be, let it marinate for awhile. Over the course of another week, I edited it another half dozen times, at least. I’d find myself training or commuting and going over it in the back of my mind. I do my best thinking when I’m not actually thinking, ya know?
This is what I came up with:
I commit to practicing self-compassion and yet pushing myself into and through discomfort to go on to bigger and greater things. I promise myself I’ll risk failures in every arena, for being brave is the only way to learn and grow. I will honor my deep desire to be active, enjoying movement no matter what shape my physical body may be in, and surrounding myself with friends who encourage me and make me excited to move and play. And I vow to make a difference in the world around me by recognizing and calling out the good in others while also modeling courage and vulnerability I want to see in the world.
Perhaps it’s not perfect, but I’m pretty happy with it — if I were to do nothing except what’s in those sentences above, my life would be rich and fulfilling. Words to live by, right?
Does anyone else out there have a manifesto? If you were to write one, what would it say? Who are you and how do you want to live your life?