What Would Brené Brown Do....
What Would Brené Brown Do... | Alex Vrabec 12/16/2020
If you don't know who Brené Brown is, let me just introduce you to your new life coach and mentor. Brené Brown is a NY Times Best Selling Author, Researcher, and Podcast Host. In my personal opinion, she speaks the truths I need to hear, when I need to hear them. I remember when I saw her Ted Talk on "vulnerability" and it changed my whole frame of mind, in one sit down. You can learn more about her, here.
So this particular post is inspired by her podcast; Unlocking Us. As I was simultaneously showering and listening to her speak about how dealing with change is difficult and 'first times' suck for everyone... I thought, "wow, people need to hear this." Especially right now as we are all in the middle of the biggest change any of us has ever been through, the COVID-19 Pandemic. And it sucks. We're all being forced to make changes that if it weren't for these circumstances, we would not be implementing. So how do we deal with these changes, whether they be short or long term? How do we thrive in this type of environment that is ever-evolving?
As Brené Brown Puts it: Identify that You're in a TFT (Terrible First Time)
Acknowledge that you're in a TFT. You know you're having this moment where you feel uncomfortable, that what you're doing is hard, it doesn't feel natural - just name it. Give yourself a break and realize that TFT's are like this for everyone! This Terrible First Time is your milestone, and guess what - you're going to overcome it. Remember, this feeling is not permanent.
As the brand spanking new Publications Specialist for the PAO as of just a couple of weeks ago, day one felt incredibly overwhelming. I did not know how to act on a video call. I did not know how formal or informal I could be in my emails. What the heck was Microsoft Teams and why were people messaging me emojis on it. I was literally thrown into this brand new environment, but every day felt a little less clumsy. I started to get to know the people working around me and was even able to land some good jokes. I got familiar with using Microsoft for literally everything, and I even started using emojis in my own MS Teams messages. Looking back, obviously that was all obviously a TFT. But just with every TFT; with time and practice, everything gets easier.
"When you name and own hard things, it does not give them power - it gives YOU power."
In the TFT zone, things are going to be hard. You're going to be clumsy, you're going to grip the wheel with white knuckles as you zoom down the Freeway of Change. This is how new is supposed to feel. But guess what, no one slam dunks the ball on their first time dribbling. The moment you identify you're in a Terrible First Time, remind yourself that feeling this way is completely normal. You don't know what you're doing, this is why you're awkward and scared. You can't draw on past experience so there's no way to feel anything but uncomfortable. Just remind yourself that TFT's happen to everyone.
Anyone that has ever played bar games with me, knows I am a complete and total shark. Pool? Got it. Darts? Easy. Shuffleboard? Don't even try. What they don't know - I've been a connoisseur of these types of games since I was in elementary school (thanks to my Grandma Lisa's basement). But I remember the first time I held a pool cue. The wood was way too heavy, the circumference completely uneven, and I didn't know which end to chalk. As I stood there; hunched over the table, weight unevenly distributed, hands sweaty, and unable to focus my right eye - I missed the cue ball entirely with my first hit. Embarrassing, right? Obviously. This is a classic TFT. But when you're 10 years old, most things are TFT's, so as a child you're accustomed to this feeling. Now, as adults, we need to continue to recognize and normalize these feelings.
"This is uncomfortable, because brave is uncomfortable."
Put it in Perspective
This feeling is not permanent and it doesn't mean you're going to suck at everything. In a few weeks, or a few months - you're going to look back and laugh a little. You'll have one of those moments, that we all have, when you can say "remember when that was so hard?" As humans, who feel incredibly uncomfortable when vulnerable - we tend to armor up. When you realize this is a TFT, you'll be able to ditch the armor and put the situation in perspective.
I don't think anything has been more of a TFT than motherhood. Seriously... what other experience out there completely breaks your world down almost every day? Also, the circumstances change constantly. Kids are TFT's one million times over. I remember feeding my daughter, Rory, avocado for the first time. I thought to myself, "oh she's going to love it, it's high in omega-3s so it's good for brain development, it's soft and easy to eat." Turns out, Rory didn't like avocados. Or salmon. Or pureed peas. Or anything except for apple sauce. I felt like a terrible mother. Why couldn't I get my child to eat anything outside of breastmilk and applesauce? That's when the perspective struck me. Rory, has never eaten anything before... this is a TFT for her as well. Literally everything for the both of us is going to be a Terrible First Time, for many many years to come. If motherhood has taught me anything, it's that children definitely force you to put everything in perspective.
"In 5 days, 5 weeks, or 5 months when we look back - we might laugh a little and we will for sure say, do you remember when that was so hard?"
Reality Check Your Expectations
When you're in a TFT, be realistic about what that means! Things are going to take twice as long, be twice as hard, you're going to be irritable, you're going to struggle, and you're going to feel vulnerable. Give yourself grace, especially when calculating the time to master a new skill or workflow. We tend to be our biggest critics and expect the most out of ourselves. So take that moment to reality check your capabilities in this Terrible First Time.
With the COVID-19 Pandemic, the greatest reality check has been being forced to work from home in my living room with my entire family under the same roof. With schools operating virtually, no options for daycare, and two parents attempting to make their jobs work from home - I had to adjust my own expectations of myself. I have since come to realize that remote working is like a roller coaster. I work vigorously while I can, and then baby manages to get into the dog food so I have to take a moment to fix that situation so I can get back to work. My productivity at times is through the roof, I'm working at the speed of light. At other times, I've got my Zoom Meetings operating through my phone so I can be mobile and on the ground with my child when she's having a needy moment. Figuring out this balance of pandemic seclusion and remote working, is not easy.
"Expectations are just resentments waiting to happen."
Just remember, we're all experiencing a lot of change right now. It's okay to feel overwhelmed, dejected, exhausted. Change is hard. I'm here to remind you that it will get better and to be proud of what you're doing.