But, Why…?

In my brain I assume that three to five of my friends and/or family will read this and quietly criticize me, but cheer me on to my face (“You’re doing great, sweetie!”) because, well, that’s just what my brain does. But a few things have happened recently that brought me here. One, I saw Michelle Obama speak on her book tour. Two, I have been without a job, in a foreign country, for two years and have been on a journey (and I do not use that term lightly!) to find the “right opportunity.” Three, I posted something on social media recently and was taken aback by the comments. Not because they were negative but because people said things like: they admired me, that I was adventurous, that I was gutsy… and I felt like a fraud.

“You are connecting with my vulnerability, and that’s the opposite of what we’re taught. We are taught to hide ourselves. Particularly women and people of color. People who feel marginalized. People who aren’t wealthy, who don’t have status. People who are working hard everyday who feel unseen. Because the truth is […], we don’t all hear our stories told in a profound way and […] that creates a level of invisibility, so we hide ourselves. But I think that the opposite is true. That, if we can open up a little bit more to each other, and share our stories, our REAL stories. Our pain and our triumphs, our hopes and our joys. In the little journeys that we all take, that’s what breaks down barriers.” -Michelle Obama Ziggo Dome April 2019

“Dare to be Vulnerable”

Maybe my expat life looks like a gutsy adventure to someone else. When I asked friends and family what they would like me to write about it was unanimously my American in Europe experience. I imagine the social media lens has a lot to do with that, but the reality for me is that this is the most difficult time in my life. I try to be honest. I don’t go on social media to create an image or ideal, I truly just want to share what is bringing me joy. But I am also not posting photos of my therapist-prescribed Mindfulness Group. Or the two years worth of job rejection letters. Or writing manifestos about how I feel this move aged me faster in two years than the previous 40 and I’m just not okay with that yet. That I loved my experience at an elephant sanctuary soooo much but REALLY REALLY (like a lot) struggled to post photos of myself blissed out, because I was in a bathing suit (I prayed to Chrissy Teigen for the strength to do it). How many of us relate to THOSE stories? Most of us.

“You first have to believe that your story has value and we all don’t believe that. Most of us don’t.”

So that is why. Maybe only three to five of my friends and/or family will show up here and quietly judge me. Maybe there won’t be many people willing to ACTUALLY be vulnerable because, let’s be honest, that shit ain’t easy! But what Michelle Obama said really spoke to me; In order to break down barriers for women and people of color we need to tell our stories. Maybe I stop waiting for the “right opportunity” and create an online community of regular folks, who feel unseen, sharing their REAL stories. A place where our stories have value. A place where we say, “Wow. THAT PART. I have felt that too and felt really alone until I heard your story.” Tell our stories. Become less invisible. Break down barriers.

17 thoughts on “But, Why…?

  1. Brenda!!! I love this!!! This is exactly why when people find out I have triplets I don’t sugar coat anything!!! I tell them my struggles. How expensive it is to conceive when you have fertility issues. In the beginning when I found out I pretty much couldn’t conceive on my own it was truly heartbreaking. I didn’t wanna tell anyone only close family and a handful of friends. But looking back now. I think it would have been a great deal of help and I probably would have received more support. This is why I LOVE telling my story. I can say that I have encourage and supported friends and even strangers on their journey to conceive :).
    Good luck my friend… (this is mee supporting u and not being fake!)

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    1. Thank you I’m so happy it resonated with you too! I am so proud of you for telling your story. Don’t stop! I was fortunate to have had fairly normal pregnancies and deliveries but the info out there even for that is NOT honest, and it’s a traumatic/amazing (aka confusing) experience. I was also very honest about my personal experience with pregnancy and delivery and many friends said that was helpful to them. I went in blind and wish I had had someone share with me what really happens. This is exactly why I’m trying to do what I’m doing. Telling our truths to eventually erase the fear of the unknown, nothing fake about that!

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  2. You’re an amazing person and friend. Love the honesty and enjoy reading all your stories and seen all your photos of your journey.

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    1. Ahhh… you got me there. It doesn’t always feel that way but also why I want to do this. I feel I have been trained to think I’m *just* *stubborn* Words us ladies need to erase from our vocabulary. Thank you so much for always having kind words.

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  3. How wonderful you are doing this Brenda… I have made difficult life decisions in the past and have wondered how yours has changed and affected your life? I can tell you that at age 75 I regret none of them good or bad as I have learned and grown from them all! Keep your beautiful positive energy gained from this wonderful family we were so blessed to be born into and as Joseph Campbell said”follow your bliss” and your life will be a journey of happiness and growth!!! 👍🏻💕

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    1. Thank you so much, Sylvia for your kind words and support. I look forward to sharing more about how this journey changed me. We all have difficult, defining moments and I hope this blog will eventually help ease someone else’s difficult time with a sense of… a little less loneliness. I hope I can find the words to accurately describe it. I can also say regret is not something I have either (well, maybe short term regrets but so far no long term ones!). Maybe it’s genetic?!

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  4. I too have been on a two year quest for the perfect opportunity. After leaving a position I had been in forever that I hated and that was sucking the life out of me, I have struggled to move forward. My recent revelation – I can continue to consider opportunities where I know I can excel but that I will hate or I can put on my big girl pants and try something new. I might love it or hate it. I might be great at it or be a complete failure. But I’ll never know if I don’t try. Still tossing around ideas. Sounds like you are a couple of steps ahead of me! Looking forward to reading more of your blog!

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    1. Thank you Teri for sharing, I had no idea. I don’t think I am a couple steps ahead of you (I can think of a couple ways I’m behind). I desperately needed to be doing something with my brain so after many conversations with many different people this blog came to be. Have you heard of Adam Grant? I recommend you listen to some of his Podcasts. It turns out that most people go through two to three career changes in their lifetime. This could be your opportunity to find something you didn’t know you loved or needed!

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      1. Thanks for the feedback, Brenda! I’ll be sure to check out Adam Grant’s podcasts. I have read his book Originals and just pulled it off my bookshelf to give it another read. 😊

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  5. Can’t wait to keep reading. I admire your journey, especially the transparency. I adored each and every elephant sanctuary photo and you looked tiny next to the elephants 🐘 😂. Letting people know the real version of ourselves can feel terrifying. But what else is there?

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