The Vulnerable Gnome

Be Brave Friday

Yesterday, there was a package.

And the package was addressed to me.

Inside that package wasn’t actually a present I ordered for someone else, which is what I was expecting. Inside that package was the unexpected; it was a present for me.

Not just any present. A handmade present.

Not just any handmade present. A gnome.

I love gnomes almost as much as manatees. That’s a big love. And here was this brown, adorable gnome that had travelled in a dark box surrounded by packaging, taking this journey where he didn’t know his reception, didn’t know his outcome, didn’t know if he’d get there, didn’t know if he’d be loved when he did.

Jumping up and down, I hugged the gnome to me and started tearing up, because I am so lucky and I know what it’s like to feel like that gnome: boxed in, afraid, not really knowing where I’m headed and getting bumped around a bit in the transit.

Maybe you feel a bit like that sometimes, too?

the most excellent gnome

But in the package was also a handmade card about being brave that I truly needed this week. It was like getting the best, biggest, unexpected hug (if you’re a person who likes hugs).

When you write books or a news blog, when you share your art, when you share your thoughts, you put yourself out there and that is vulnerable. I’ve been feeling pretty vulnerable these past two weeks.

This vulnerability is especially when you aren’t perfect. Believe me, I am SO far from perfect. And my ego wants me to never make a mistake. Ever. But my heart is so lucky and blessed when people let me know that I have. I am often shocked by how kind and gentle people are with me when I misspell their names.

Despite that, the other night I went to bed thinking about the news blog and the ways I earn money (not the news blog, I put out all that content for free because I want people who can’t afford the news to have at least some news), and I had such a crisis of faith because of a small error.  

“I can’t keep doing this. Why am I doing this?”

I whined. A lot. Luckily, the dogs didn’t mind.

And the next morning, I woke up feeling the same way, which never happens. In the shower, I thought, “I need a sign from the universe about whether to keep doing this.”

The first email I saw was from a journalist subscribing to my news blog and thanking me for the straightforward reporting. And then I received another kind email about the same thing. And then I realized what I dork I am.

It is sometimes so hard to believe in yourself. It is sometimes so hard to forgive yourself when you aren’t perfectly perfect. And then—whoosh—in sweeps the universe on the backs of kind humans who go out of their way to say something kind.

How amazing is that?

I’m very lucky. Not only do I get gnomes in the mail. I get kindness and correction with kindness. How cool is that? I know so many people in local government who get the exact opposite every day.

I hope they get kindness and I hope that you get that too, and I hope that you can be brave enough and vulnerable enough to go out there and learn new things, run for political office despite people spitting venom at you, support your causes, create words and art and story and friendships. Because sometimes it all can seem so overwhelming.

In her book, Daring Greatly, Brene Brown writes that the biggest myth about vulnerability is that it is weakness.

She also says, “Vulnerability isn’t good or bad: It’s not what we call a dark emotion, nor is it always a light, positive experience. Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness.”

I am so lucky that I have the gift of knowing so many of you and for knowing Susie via the dynamic duo of Art and Liz. I hope you all get to have a lot of Susies in your lives. And gnomes. I hope you all get a lot of gnomes.

Author: carriejonesbooks

I am the NYT and internationally-bestselling author of children's books, which include the NEED series, FLYING series, TIME STOPPERS series, DEAR BULLY and other books. I like hedgehogs and puppies and warm places. I have none of these things in my life.

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