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, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in 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 fails while DARING GREATLY. // Theodore Roosevelt
In some capacity in our lives, we all strive to dare greatly. To push past all odds, to defy those challenges that others said couldn’t be done, and to be willing to take chances you might not feel comfortable taking. As an overachiever and perfectionist, my constant internal battle goes something like this, “DO MORE. BE MORE. MORE. MORE. MORE!” But, is that really daring greatly? Is attempting to pile more on your plate and perfecting your life really what Theodore Roosevelt was talking about? No. Somewhere in the past two years I realized that my perfectionism had to stop. That in order to drive myself forward I’d need to make some changes. I’d have to become more vulnerable. I’d have to take some major leaps.
Problem is, I’ve never been a risk taker.
Yes, I’m adventurous. Yes, I’m willing to try new things. Fearless risk taker? No, that is not words I’d describe me. If the journey is within my comfort zone I’m all for it. The minute that uncertainty comes creeping in… I’m out. I struggled for years trying to figure out how to get past this. How does one change deep feelings of anxiety? How do you move forward into the unknown? For me, my husband was that bridge. When it came time to be daring, he basically pushed me over the edge. With time, my perception of the ambiguous faded; they became grand adventures.
So we decided the next adventure would be to migrate out west, to Colorado. Packing up my car with the final remnants of my life in Michigan, it dawned on me how calm I felt. I was moving clear across the country to a place where I knew no one! I didn’t have a job and had no clue what my life would look like once I arrived; so why didn’t this scare the shit out of me? It felt freeing and confusing at the same time. What had changed in me? Where was anxious Kate?
Several weeks into the move I started reading Brené Brown’s novel, Daring Greatly, when her words hit me full force. “I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” This was why I had felt that calm; I had pulled out the vulnerability card and was letting myself be exposed to a world that I had never known. Her words confirmed my perfectionist traits had hindered this process for most of my life. In a world of imperfect people and objects, I will never succeed if I try to make those things around me perfect. It’s not gonna happen. So I remind myself, “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”
Do I still struggle with trying to create a spotless world around me? Oh yes, and I probably always will. But in order to succeed, to pursue my dreams, and create a happy life, I will have to continue to relinquish that control, unearth my vulnerability, and know that “Hey, it’s okay if it’s not perfect. Move forward.”
Sometimes, a fresh start is all anyone needs. So onward, to daring greatly in Colorado.