This week’s feat falls under the category of “fun with a purpose.” I was particularly interested in participating in this experience because it was inspired by the work of Dr. Brené Brown, who is a hero of mine. Dr. Brown, who describes herself as a researcher/storyteller, explains her qualitative research by declaring “stories are just data with a soul” (http://brenebrown.com/research/). One of the volunteers from the Canadian Mental Health Association – Niagara Branch recently read Daring Greatly and decided to try out the core value of courage through vulnerability and invited others to join her in “showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
The plan was for a number of kindred spirits to band together in a flash mob. In this case, we wouldn’t be wearing our hearts on our sleeves; our messages would be written on our shirts. The idea was to write a personal insecurity that we have some discomfort sharing on the front of the shirt and an accepting statement that contradicted it on the back. We would all meet at a certain place and time, throw off our coats to reveal our shirts of vulnerability, and perform a dance routine to Sara Bareilles, Brave.
In case you were wondering why on earth we would want to do this, Dr. Brown’s research has supported the need to embrace our vulnerability in order to truly experience joy, love, belonging and connection. Our flash mob leader in this feat wrote the following: “To be accepted as you are, without judgement, is a very powerful feeling. Hopefully this event will empower each of us as we encourage others to Brave too.”
I was enthusiastic about the event, but a little intimidated by the choreographed routine part given my less-than-coordinated dance skills. Nonetheless, I jumped in with both (left) feet. Having not been able to attend the first rehearsal, my first glimpse of the group practice was on a video sent to us so we could teach ourselves the moves. The dance began with two very talented dance teachers engaged in wildly complicated (from my perspective anyway) steps and gestures, followed by some kids from a dance group who were part of the troupe. At the first chorus, the rest of the “mob” joined in.
My first instinct upon seeing the video was to come down with a contagious illness from which I would not recover until after the flash mob performance. But, I chose instead to “dare greatly” and I attended the next rehearsal where a very patient instructor broke down the moves for me and a couple of other neophytes to the point that I was only one or two steps behind everyone else at the end of the hour. We had one more dress rehearsal the day before the event. By then I had decided that I would be less concerned about delivering a perfect performance and more tuned into having fun with the whole experience.
We met up at the mall and learned our mob would take over the food court where, hopefully, we would have an audience of Christmas shoppers. Speakers and cameras were set up as unobtrusively as possible, and then the music started. Just as in the rehearsals, the instructors began their beautiful routine, joined first by the kids, and, finally, by the rest of us. I managed to mostly stay with the group, and, more importantly, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, absorbing the positive energy from those around me. In our final move, we all turned our backs to face the crowd, pointing at our statements of strength. My shirt said “I am afraid to show the REAL ME” on the front, and “But I will DARE GREATLY and let my light shine” on the back. As I pointed my thumbs at the words, I felt a rush of adrenaline; it is my hope that our feat might inspire other to cast off the shadows of fear, and bravely let your beautiful, imperfect, lovely lights shine.
Next up: Time for another food feat: sushi anyone?