The first book club meeting for Rising Strong kicked off last week! I’ll admit, I was quite nervous about this first meeting. We were covering chapters 1-5 which waste no time in getting into the meat of rising strong and sharing stories that match that process. Our group consisted of around 20ish folks from across the university in a variety of disciplines – which I appreciated having multiple perspectives to be represented in our conversation. I was happy to see that I was not the only one who Rising Strong was their first Brené haha. After the initial introductions of the book and the hope for the book club, we broke into small groups of 4-5 to discuss our thoughts and debrief.
Our group jumped right in describing what comes to mind when we hear the phrase “rising strong”. One of my friends in the group painted a picture for us of a phoneix emerging from a pile of ashes – as a starting point. As I thought more about it, I could make the connection that we weren’t just fleeing the ashes where a lot of work has been done to rise us up, but use that as a learning and potential reflective piece – never know when a similar situation may come up again and knowing what work was done before can help the process. Thinking about the stories mentioned in the chapters assigned, the main theme I took away was reminiscent of The Fault in Our Stars – “Pain Demands to be Felt”.
The next question we responded to was Think of a time you have fallen. What was your process for getting back up? Seeing this question, I immediately retreated and put up my wall – my heart was pounding, the way that my body knows I should do something but it is protesting with fear and anxiety. As folks in my group shared their narratives of falling, I found myself feeling the fall with them but also rejoicing when they had that turning point and rose above the fall. When their was a slight lull between stories, I thought to myself This is what this is about – being vulnerable. I need to practice it.
And so I began with my narrative. I first shared that in my life I tend to do a lot of comparisons in which the conclusion is always the same – who am I to be better, sadder, etc. than those around me? My stories aren’t as painful or important as someone else’s, who I think has seen and experienced something tragic. However, what I have slowly been buying into is the idea that everyone has some kind of hurt. Hurt is hurt – as simple as that. There is no one-upping someone else because pain hurts all the same, there’s no need for a degree check on scale of 1-10. After explaining that piece, I shared with my group about my graduate school experience and how challenging yet self-reflective and revealing it was. In my program, there are classes where we counsel each other, and I found that a huge benefit to be able to share my story and have catharsis be such a powerful tool in my rising strong process – something I denied my mind and body of before for fear of letting others in. Growing up, that just wasn’t the norm and not something I engaged in frequently, if at all. So in terms of me rising strong, I realize I am not at that point yet, I’m still in the middle of the process – the Day 2 if you will. Speaking about what our next steps individually in the process looks like, I mentioned the Shitty First Draft – I find myself molding my stories and hurts into something that does not reveal the whole truth but I start believing it myself. The SFD is a way for me to get out all the truths (even the story I’m making up) and work through those emotions and the hard stuff. Because my love of written communication, I can easily see this as a personal journal entry, finessing it until I’ve struggled but am happy with where my head is.
Clearly all of these ideas and thoughts are in their initial stages as I continue to read through and reflect on Rising Strong. Having a group to work through these ideas has been adding value to this experience as I am receiving that support for vulnerability without judgment. I believe it gives me a basis to expand that group of folks that I am vulnerable with but one step at a time for sure. Now off to chapters 6-8!
What have you learned from Rising Strong?