One of the many lessons I’ve learned from @brenebrown is that fully embracing joy is key to vulnerability, but that many people are stuck in “conditional joy” mindsets focused on fear rather than the moment. For someone like me, I fixate on all the potential humiliation, harassment, and fatal physical assaults I or someone I love could experience while out and about. .
This particular fear of the public’s reaction and “everything going wrong” holds me back from enjoying some of the most special moments of my life. These events are not necessarily big occasions but the small things many people take for granted and forget about until they’re gone: holding hands with and kissing my partner at a restaurant; going to the movies in a feminine outfit; wearing makeup and attending to a local fair; or walking down the street with my shoulders back and head held high. In effect, I stay on guard and resistant while navigating public spaces, but even more so in relationships with my partner, family, and friends worried that I may lose them at any time. Sometimes in my pursuit of control over situations, I even become to destroyer of my own joy just to avoid being destroyed by another. .
The greatest tools I’ve learned to combat these fears and to fully embrace joy in my life is to practice gratitude and accept the unknown. In practice, these have been truly humbling and grounding skills that I’m still mastering but I dedicate myself to experience complete happiness. The tool of gratitude has looked like me openly stating all the blessings I hold in a particular moment of joy. While alone, I may state my thanks for the air in my lungs, the abilities and opportunities I’ve been granted, and the work I’ve done to deserve being in that moment. With my partner, I may state my pride and thanks for our unconditional love, our abilities to overcome and grow from many challenges, and the opportunity to be with someone so incredible. The tool of acceptance, while more difficult to practice, is essential for me in acknowledging that I can not control everything around me and, in turn, should not spend any precious moment worrying about it.