‘Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart’. These six words were written by Brene Brown in her new book ‘Braving the Wilderness’. These six words resonated so deeply, it was as if they had been imprinted on my soul lifetimes ago. Waiting to be uncovered and set free. To be whispered at first, and then screamed into the wind.
To be courageous and fierce yet soft and vulnerable. A contradiction of sorts.
I was born with a strong back. Inherited from an incredible ancestral lineage of women that were so courageous and fierce. Like everyone, I was also born with a soft front. But over time, and through a series of experiences, my front hardened. So now I have a strong back and a hard front. Slowly the hardness has seeped into my heart and soul. But this hardness is no longer serving me. In fact, it’s sabotaging me. It’s keeping me stuck in old patterns and places. But how do you soften in a hard and inauthentic world?
See that’s the problem. Emotions are real. Vulnerability is really real. We don’t know how to exist with such real and raw things. We live in an increasingly inauthentic world, where life is viewed through a myriad of filters. Everything is polished and gloss applied. Image is everything. We are disconnected from our emotions, and we are afraid to put them on display for fear of how they will upset this precarious show. The pressure to feel good, look good, do good ALL the time is unrelenting and exhausting. There’s no room for mess.
What if showing emotion was not considered a weakness? What if, instead of hiding our pain, we put it on display for all to see? What if I wasn’t worried about your discomfort? What if our vulnerability made us stronger? What if we stopped judging and started accepting. I mean really accepting. What if we started to discern truth from untruth, to be honest and real, with ourselves, and each other.
I get asked all the time why I hike for days on end. What exactly do I love so much about it? There are many things, but one of the biggest for me is how real it is out there. There is no hiding. There’s nothing to hide behind. It is a beautiful, raw and real world out there. Mess in all its forms is accepted, welcomed, embraced. It’s an emotional safe harbour. It’s when I return to the ‘real’ world that I realise in fact, the real world is the wilderness.
We need to share how we feel. We need to listen. We need to accept. We need to love. We need to be kind. Truth is difficult to discern, and more difficult to speak and hear. It can be somewhat isolating at times. But we need to always stand in our truth and know wholly and without doubt that we will be supported, that we will be loved, that we will be accepted and respected.