As this is the first post in this series, I thought I should explain a bit. Each month I’ll feature my favorite book that I read from the month before. More than a review, I want to show how these books affected me and my life.
I read Daring Greatly by Brené Brown last month. Originally I put this book on hold on a whim. I needed something new to read and the cover caught my eye. Since then I feel like I’ve heard her name everywhere. It made me even more excited to read the book (which I waited more than a month for).
I am normally an entertainment/escapist reader. I have a hard time convincing myself to read things solely because “they’re good for me”. Reading books like that is like motivating myself to exercise when there is no game involved (shout out for ZUMBA), or eating “healthy food”. I tend to start the “vegetable” books, but ultimately let them rot in favor of the “ice cream” books.
That was not the case with this book.
To be fair, I may never have read this book at all if I hadn’t heard twenty minutes of The Gifts of Imperfection (also by Brené Brown) over Christmas Break while we were driving back from New Orleans with my husband’s parents. So much of what I heard resonated with me…minus the cursing (I have a deep and abiding hate of swear words).
When the hold finally came through I was so excited and started reading it… then let it sit for a few days. When I picked it up again, I had run out of Ice Cream books.
When I finally gave it a chance, it pulled me and held tight.
She talks about how we learn to armor ourselves against vulnerability from a young age, and how ultimately that armor hides who we really are from everyone, including ourselves.
I especially connected with what she said about perfectionism.
‘Most perfectionists grew up praised for achievement and performance [*raises hand*]. Somewhere along the way, they adopted this dangerous and debilitating belief system: “I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect.” [*raises both hands*].’
Being married has forced me to face all of my masks and all of my walls and commit to taking a hammer to them. It has forced me to remember.
“Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving for excellence.”
When I was first married I focused on making myself smaller, into what I believed the perfect wife should be: Beautiful, kind, always does the laundry, has a hot and delicious meal ready for my husband when he gets home…
After being married for a few months and having a few fights, I made a mental list designed to get myself to shut up. To keep myself from being vulnerable and getting hurt.
- Shut up.
- You are probably wrong anyways.
- Nobody wants to hear it.
Let me be clear, I made this list. Not my husband or what he said. Me.
I remember Brian telling me once that I always chased him to the edge of the bed in my sleep. A flaw in my mind. So every night I would fall asleep mentally telling myself over and over to stay on my side of the bed.
I felt like I could never tell anyone if I was having a hard time being married. I’d transferred my perfectionism to our marriage. People would think we weren’t happy, and we were. People would think our marriage wasn’t amazing and loving if they knew that I struggled.
But this book helped me to embrace the imperfections. To lean into the discomfort of vulnerability.
I am not perfect.
No matter how much I wish it. I am an imperfect human being.
I still chase Brian to the edge of the bed. I definitely don’t have dinner on the table even half of the weeknights.
However, I can still strive for excellence.
So can you.
What are you reading? How has it changed you? If you’ve read this book, how has it affected your life?