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You Are Your Best Thing; Vulnerability, Shame, Resilience, And the Black Experience

Updated: Apr 26

By Tarana Burke and Brene Brown

When this anthology was first recommended to me I was skeptical honestly about how a

book that would describe the lived experiences of people of color would relate to my lived

experience. I was skeptical not because I thought that no one could ever catch the subtle and non subtle nuances of our lived experience. Nevertheless, this book eloquently expresses the experiences of LGBTQIA+ individuals and the experiences of Black men and so many other identities with a raw and open sense of emotional vulnerability. I am very familiar with the works of Brene Brown. As a therapist, I have read her books and found that they have allowed me to gain a deeper insight into how I lean more into a space of compassion, empathy, and tap into my own source of resilience to be the best mental health professional I can be for my clients. However, this book was more than me taking in knowledge that would improve my practice or perspective about how I view my therapeutic work…this book touched my spirit in a way that I would have never imagined. I became and still am more intrigued about the friendship and professional relationship that Brene and Tarana share. I actually am a little envious of it, because I too would like to have a relationship with a colleague where we can deepen our understanding of our lived experience through the lens of race. Yet, is that my fault for not leaning into it? This is a question that for me the book has answered. Yes, indeed it is sure as hell my fault in a way for not finding that space to cultivate my identity as well as part of my therapist identity.

In reading the book, there were specific sections that moved me tears. It is one thing to see yourself through the lived experience of another, but it is totally an earth-shattering experience to be moved by one’s joy, pain, compassion, sorrow and confusion that resonates with the things you have thought and felt but you may never really given voice to in your life. I thought about commenting on certain exerts of the essays in the book and giving you a glimpse into how the words of the individuals who chose to be open and beautifully vulnerable to bear their innermost parts, but I do not want to dare try to interpret another’s lived experience just as I would not want anyone to try to interpret mine.

I all think that we could utilize a mirror in which to see ourselves. This book welcomed me to step in front of the mirror and embrace all of my characteristics but most of all it caused me to see the beauty that lies within my insecurities, if I can take the first step to have the courage to affirm areas where I see growth and truly lean into a space of discomfort to explore them. I try not to be a spoiler in my reviews, because I feel like that would take away from your experience as a reader as well as your right to discover what you find to challenge you and bring you a sense of peace, comfort, and perhaps even a sense of longing in this book. Five stars all the way around!

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