From last year's post - Can you Handle the Arena?
Hey Party People,
2020, what a year ammi right? 2021... better or worst? All depends on your perspective and personal journey doesn't it?
I truly don’t even know if there are words to describe the emotional upheaval and challenge of this year to date. As always though I refuse to let 2020 win. I refuse to let naysayers get to me. I refuse to let anyone or anything keep me down. I have too much to be grateful for to wallow in the gutters.
What I’ve noticed lately though peeps is that my highs and lows are drastic. The peaks and valleys of my mood are extreme. Like I’m not talking the Rockies and the Foothills lately guys, I’m talking the Himalayans and the Shivaliks (the Indian equivalent for the foothills). What I mean by this is that my highs have me feeling elated and fulfilled, but my lows have me strugggggglin’ deep in the gutters of self-doubt and overwhelm.
It’s been hard for me to juggle and balance these swings of emotion because that’s not what I qualify as normal for myself. Either I’ve been incredibly good at managing my emotions in the past or I’ve never been challenged like this before. For example, I was just talking to my mama this week and told her I have never felt the level of overwhelm or anxiety I felt in the first two weeks of September this year – I think I cried 3x. What’s got me shook is that when I look back at 2019 it would seem I had even more going on and I never reached the point I had earlier this month. Why?
Well, some pieces are obvious – we’re living in a global pandemic with ALL kinds of challenges, uncertainty, and changes to our daily lives. After 6 months of this I think sometimes I forget how this virus continues to impact my life and challenge me in big and small ways. Second, the ugly inequalities of our world are around every corner, and since my Unveiling, I am constantly upset at the world and myself for not seeing it before. Finally, I’ve come to realize that I’ve entered a different arena. For those of you not familiar with Brene Brown’s work, she talks about "the arena" as a place where we confront our vulnerabilities and fears. She refers to it in many many of her books and it revolves around this famous quote.
“ It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
What both this quote and Brene Brown encourages us to do is lean into our discomfort, fight our demons, be vulnerable and confront our greatest fears, otherwise, we will remain those cold and timid souls described above. When we choose to enter the arena we will be faced with some of our greatest fears, but also some of our greatest triumphs. We will have to battle our own demons of self-doubt and overwhelm because we don’t have all the answers, and it takes work. The arena is a battlefield littered with the unknown but also with soft whispers of potential victory.
Picture the movie Gladiator with Russell Crowe's character, Maximus. He is in the middle of the arena surrounded by thunderous and deafening crowds, standing alone with his armour and a single sword, encircled by locked gates at every turn hiding a ferocious beast or warrior itching to be released. It’s terrifying to be in the arena like Maximus, so why would we choose to enter the arena? (Maximus didn’t have a choice, but he was still a victor beyond all odds).
We choose to enter the arena when we are ready to choose ourselves. When we are ready to live into our purpose and to challenge the things in our world and our life that we don’t like. When we do this we are working towards the existence of an extraordinary life. We step into the arena willingly because we know it's worth it.
So are you playing small and playing it safe in your life? Are you pulling the wool over your eyes because you don’t like what you see, or want to ignore what’s going on around you? Or are you ready to enter the arena with me? Will you challenge your greatest doubts about yourself and dream into the greatest possibilities? Join me, or not. But in the words of Brene Brown herself,
“ If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked. I’m not interested in your feedback.”
And because music is my jam! Here is a fun Caribbean vibe for you! My fav artist, Machel Montano the king of Soca! Party jam for the week!
With so much gratitude, -S