Recently, Sara Bareilles, one of my favorite singer-songwriters, released her new single, Brave. (I've included it above for your aural enjoyment.) In her lyrics, she sings: "Maybe there's a way out of the cage where you live/Maybe one of these days you can let the light in/Show me how big your brave is/Say what you want to say/Let the words fall out honestly/I want to see you be brave."
It's not easy to be brave. It's one of those things in life that seems easier said than done. It's fitting that I've been spending a lot of time being reflective on this the past few days. I've been attending an educational research conference for the first time, and a close friend who is also a wonderful colleague and I presented a paper we wrote which analyzed some data from my dissertation research. As a faculty member and emerging scholar in the field of higher education, I still fight some of my long-held perfectionist tendencies. I fear being "brave" often in terms of my writing. I hold onto manuscripts because they're "not ready yet" or get "cursor paralysis" - that blinking cursor on a blank Word document - when trying to write something because I get hung up on sounding intelligent or want to be as clear as possible in describing something that feels very complex. It's hard to be "brave."
Brene Brown's latest work, Daring Greatly, has been a great reminder of trying to live Wholeheartedly and take that bravery into action by taking risks, letting go of perfectionistic fears, and embracing the messiness that comes with adventure. (If you haven't read her work, I strongly encourage you to do so. From a research perspective, I also adore her discussion of grounded theory too!) As I continue to grow in my field and scholarship, I am committing myself to taking more risks and being a bit more brave. As I've been here at the conference, I've taken time to work on a project that has been long giving me anxiety and am breaking through the self-built walls toward progress. Presenting the paper also reaffirmed that I need to let go of my fears and be present in the moment. I was proud of the work that my colleague and I put into that paper; our presentation served as a reflection of that work. My irrational fears - which were really a need for external validation - continues to illuminate what those blind spots are for me and my personal and professional development.
I share all of this today in the hopes of generating a conversation.