Sometimes there are books that you keep on hearing back and know you need to read. In this case, it wasn’t a book, but an author, Brené Brown, who kept on popping people. I have heard numerous people raved about Daring Greatly and Rising Strong so when I heard that Brené was bringing out a new book, Braving The Wilderness, I thought it would be the perfect read for end PropelHer’s Book Club 2017 with.
Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston and is probably most famous for her TEDx Talk – The Power of Vulnerability.
Brené’s inspiration for writing Braving The Wilderness was the following Maya Angelou quote
“You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great”.
At the beginning, Brené shares how she struggled with the quote as belonging was always something important to hear. That quote and Brené’s struggle resulted in her going into research mode to really understand what true belonging was and the result is Braving The Wilderness.
Brené is known for speaking often about authenticity, so it isn’t surprising that it is mentioned in relation to finding true belonging:
“True belonging only happens when we present our authentic imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance”
A chapter that I really connected with was High Lonesome: A Spiritual Crisis. In this chapter, Brene writes that “I don’t think there’s anything lonelier that being with people and feeling alone” and I couldn’t agree more. Living in London, a city with over 8 million people it can be so hard to feel alone when you are completed surrounded by others. It just doesn’t feel the same as when you are alone in a place where there isn’t anyone.
In modern day, a way a number of people try to find connection is via social media and Brene has strong views on social media. She states that “Social media is great for developing community, but for true belonging, real connection and real empathy requires meeting real people in a real space in a real time.” As far as she is concerned “face-to-face connection is imperative in our true belonging practice”.
For me, in-person is really important. That is why even though I am a member of numerous online communities and run my own I also run in-person events, such as PropelHer’s Book Club in London. For me, I love being in the same space of people and whilst it involves more effort, I believe it is worth the extra effort.
One of the ideas I found really interesting was how we have separated ourselves and now we are surrounded by people with the same political, religious and spiritual beliefs. This results in us not having to have our views challenged and we live in an echo-chamber.
The word like-minded is used so often in a positive manner, however, whilst it may be difficult to negotiate situations where people have different views, it is an important part of life.
A quote that really struck me was “What they don’t tell you is that your thick skin will keep everything from getting out, too”. Often, people are advised to grow a thick skin. Life is hard and you need to develop a way to not take everything personally and let it hurt you. However, what isn’t explored is that having a thick skin means you can also end up trapping all of your emotions inside – and that isn’t good for you!
Essentially, the book is about making a choice – would you rather fit in or truly belong?
Near the end of the book, Brené leaves you with a shadowing thought:
“We can spend our entire life betraying ourself and choosing fitting in over standing alone”
Overall, I loved this Braving The Wilderness. It spoke directly to my heart and really made me think about how brave I actually was.
I read this book as part of PropelHer’s Book Club – the ultimate book club for ambitious women committed to their personal development and professional success. If you wouldn’t like to find out more click here.
Like the sound of Braving The Wilderness? Why not buy a copy for yourself?