10 Things I Learned in October
Brené Brown, one of my favorite non-fiction writers, talks about learning in her book Daring Greatly which I finished reading this month. She tells her students (and those who read her work) that if you're not uncomfortable, you're not learning.
I spent this month in varying degrees of discomfort. I am learning to lean in to those hard places, to ask myself why I feel the way I do, to ask God what He has for me in the situation, the feeling, the anxiety.
I'm not used to thinking of discomfort as an emissary of joy, but I've learned that it is just that. I've been struggling, flailing and kicking things, but I've also not felt such unfettered joy before, ever.
Not all of the things on this list are serious. (One of the things that I learned is that I need lightness just as much as heavy.) But just because they aren't serious, it doesn't mean that they don't matter.
1. I hate asking for help. But I have to do it.
I may be allergic to asking for help. I have physical symptoms. Like many perfectionists (and recovering perfectionists), I've spent my life trying to manage perceptions. Am I presenting the right face to the world? Do I look smart enough or seem good enough? I have lived in terror of being over or underdressed, too loud, too quiet, too funny, too dirty. I wrote about some of my experiences asking for help this month and I'm going to be exploring this more in November, and beyond.
2. Many African women drop out of school when they start their periods.
My friend Tina wrote a piece that brings new meaning to the word brave, only one of the pieces that spoke about the shame and bond of blood and the ways that poverty has robbed these girls of choices and of the important discomforts of learning. I can't imagine not being able to afford something that seems as basic as menstrual supplies and being teased and belittled as a result, at any age, especially such a tender one. I'd encourage you to hop over and learn about this one for yourself.
3. Irish Chick-Lit is just as good as British Chick-Lit.
I'm going to make a confession. British Chick-Lit is my Ben and Jerry's, my fruity cocktail and my coconut latte, all rolled into one. I have no patience with American Chick-Lit, but the same situations translated to life across the Pond take on extra joy and hilarity. It's not for everyone, I'll admit that. But if you're like me, and you're scraping the bottom of the ice-cream container, you may be happy, as I was, to learn that Irish Chick-Lit, while not exactly the same, is just as funny, accented and satisfying.
4. I don't hate dating. I hate dating people I think I should date.
5. Sometimes the posts I stay up until all hours of the morning compulsively editing are the most powerful.
I joined up with Addie Zierman's When We Were On Fire synchroblog, in honor of her new book. She asked us to write about our experiences growing up "on fire for God." I knew I had a lot of jagged edges from that time, but I wasn't prepared for the onslaught of emotion. I've reframed those experiences so many times, I didn't think that they still had any power. I found them tender still, but the distance has brought them into better focus. Writing about them has been a wonderful means of connection and healing, the opportunity to hold my broken pieces up to those of others and find that they fit. You can read my post here.
6. Reading is both a wonderful gift and a bottomless means of escape, depending on how I use it.
7. My friends are right about Sacred Space.
Several Twitter friends have made references to the Irish website Sacred Space and I finally checked it out this month. It's run by Irish Jesuits and has a new set of prayers every day. It's a miniature liturgy, and it's been blowing my mind.
8. Life is like a delicious meal.
No matter how amazing it is, it is consumed, abandoned or thrown away. I can cry over this, or I can dig in.
9. There are people in my life that I can be completely honest with, even when that's scary.
10. Being misunderstood doesn't diminish who I am.
What have you learned in October?