It Takes An Act of Courage to Be Seen

This weekend I was in the thick of two major things that put me in a vulnerable place: Hosting a party and being creative under pressure.

On Saturday, I was trying to make a cake and a party for my son that he would love and one of my friends said, “This is kind of an over-the-top birthday for a three year old, isn’t it?” and I said, “Is it?” because I thought I was doing a great job of having it be low key and fun and cool AND make him an amazing cake he would love.

Then on Sunday, while writing my entry for the third challenge of the Short Screenplay Challenge 2010, I felt like I was trying to corral all these ideas into behaving themselves and into doing what they were supposed to be doing and they were all over the place and at the same time I was trying to meet a deadline AND be creative under pressure AND keep my head at the same time. (Jeez.)

Plus, layered on top of that, I’m in the midst of getting a hold of the slippery direction I’m heading in with my work. It’s changing, evolving, I’m doing it as I go along, but people (Read: naysayers) keep implying that I’m not doing it enough or fast enough or that I’m trying too hard to get it right before I proceed. 

All these things add to the quality of self-consciousness and second-guessing coming up that makes me feel like my slip is really showing. (I hate that.)

But right in the thick of all of this, I had the pleasure of watching Brené Brown’s brilliant TED talk on vulnerability. (If you haven’t seen it, go watch it right now, you’ll be glad you did.)

Since then, I’ve been immersed in thinking over the ways in which I hold myself back from truly connecting, being wildly, deeply creative and joyful, and just plain-old enjoying my life more and how it takes an act of courage to be seen.

Truly seen by yourself, your spouse, your children, your family, your audience.

The thing is, I want to have a LOT more fun. I’ve hacked my life in key ways over the last several years. I know how to trust my intuition, how to work with my sensitive nature rather than against it, how to Get Stuff Done and do it well and effectively, how to make a great living doing work I truly enjoy, how to run a business, and how to work from home and raise a small child (still working on that one).

And there is so much more for me to work on. (I’m an Enneagram Four; there’s ALWAYS more.)

But at the end of the day, what is the point if I’m not enjoying it?

Brené Brown tells us that being vulnerable is the key to making REAL connections, feeling more creative, and having more joy in our lives.

How can we be more real, more vulnerable, and more seen?

I’m trying.

How about you?

If this sparked anything for you, please share it in the comments section below. I always love to hear from you.

What’s Jenna Up To?

~> January 21st & 22nd, 2011. Voice Your Vision Mastermind Retreat. In-Person Workshop in Berkeley, California. Clarify your unique vision to implement your Life Purpose in a specific, step-by-step plan. TWO SPOTS remaining. This small group retreat is perfect for you if you know your purpose but you’re wondering, “What’s next?” Details:

~> January 27th & 28th, 2011. Powerful Strategies to Slay Your Inner Critic Demons So You Can Leap Into the Creative Spotlight.” Appearing as a guest expert at Baeth Davis’s “Claim Your Spotlight” program in Los Angeles, California.

~> NEW DATE: February 10 22, 2011. Virtual Workshop: Claim Your Calling: 5 Steps To Get You Back On Track With What You Were Put Here To Do. Details. Early registration ends January 13th January 27th.


  1. Hey, Jenna —

    Just wanted to send you some love and support for doing your own thing, in your own way, at your own pace — and feeling insecure and self-conscious and whatever the heck else you feel while doing it — no matter what anyone else says.

    And thanks for being so open and vulnerable with us. Posts like this one help me build up the courage to do my own thing, when I’m ready, in my own way, at my own pace.



  2. Wow Jenna, your on fire in terms of your connection to your true source of creativity, how amazing. I believe we are usually onto a winner in terms of creative breakthroughs when things reach feverpitch, or in other words an intolerable accumulation of feelings, idea’s and anything else that exposes our vulnerability, to be authentic is all we can hope for and in doing so we give others permission to do the same, I cant think of a better way for the human spirit to express itself. Freedom and joy are sitting next to us all the time, it is by becoming vulnerable that we begin to see them. Thank you so much for your commitment and trust in your own process, you bring light into my day. We are the change we want to see in our lives.

    Have fun, Sarah

    • Sarah, I TOTALLY agree. Well said, “we are usually onto a winner in terms of creative breakthroughs when things reach feverpitch.”

  3. Dear Jenna,

    Born an extravert, I was abused by my narcissist family whenever I tried to be seen. This abuse was physical between ages 6 and 12. Later on it became “just” verbal. In a family like mine, you were supposed to humble yourself to your parents or be severely disciplined. Thus it was very unsafe to be seen for what I was / am. It took me many years to discover about who I really am, what my purpose in life is and who my real friends are. Now, aged 50, I am starting to learn about being vulnerable and discover what this brings to my life; joy, creativity and real love. Things that I only read about in books and saw on tv untill recently. Thanks for your post; it strenghtens my belief that I am on the right track!

    • Twan, so sorry to hear about what you went through, and so inspired that you have come so far. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  4. Thank you Jenna for so eloquently phrasing the necesssity of courage to be vulnerable and for sharing the video. I plan on sharing it with my audience as well. Your post and the video goes to the heart of what my message is- to connect. Your post aligns with my newest path as a Love Amabassador in sharing the work in Marci Schimoff’s new book Love For No Reason. Living whole heartedly is fundamental to living your Purpose as you so well know.
    Many Blessings,

    • Thank you, Colleen! I’m glad you’ll share that video with your audience, it is so powerful. “Living wholeheartedly is fundamental to living your purpose.” Amen to that!

  5. Hi Jenna!

    Fabulous title for this post. I love Brene! Won her book DVD on a site last March. She’s funny and insightful. You’ll notice that she really opens up in her talks. It’s the only way to connect with others.

    Allowing myself to be vulnerable opened the doors to an amazing life. It’s about taking inner risks, the best ones of all. Once you let others see what you, I we, spend such great energy trying to hide, you really free yourself.

    You get as close as you can to the “Who cares what others think.” While we can’t get that to zero because we’re human, the more you can let go of what others think (and frankly, they ought to be freeing their own lives instead of fixating on yours) the more you can live an out-of-control life.

    The burden of trying to control the external facade gets lifted and those energies can go into doing the FUN stuff.

    Congrats on the sci-fi stuff. It’s so you! I see all sorts of programs as you venture into this new “slippery” direction.

    Enjoy your ride down the slippery slide,

    • Giulietta, Thanks for your note! Yes, lots of possibilities down this slippery slide. :) Love your point about not being able to get to zero, we’re still human, but to strive to get as close as possible. xoxo

  6. Thanks Jenna for this note, it really helped. I do feel I’m stretching in a few uncomfortable but necessary zones to get my stuff out there…. and its such a new vulnerable yet good feeling, and I doubt myself sometimes and other times take another step. Trying to do a business plan, and get my ebook on the digital platform and make some songs on an instrument that chose me. Keep showing up and I know I’ll get it! What an encouragement you are though! I can’t wait til I can finally get your energy courses. I, II, and III. hopefully before too long! hugs.. I wish you all the best in your endeavors!! :) luv Jenn

    • Good for you, Jenn, stretching like that. I can’t wait for you to get my energy courses too. Keep us posted about your ebook — what’s it about? And congrats on being chosen by your instrument. What a powerful thing.

  7. Hi Jenna. I have been feeling this way lately as well, and it is funny you would bring this topic up now because I just came to a deep realization about myself this morning. My life is about being introspective and I am just now learning to respect that about myself. In a world that is anything but introspective, it can feel like a curse at times (I too am an Enneagram 4). But what I realized, is that we must fully embrace who we are before anyone else will be able to embrace us and stop focusing on who we are not and focusing on who we actually are. It is okay if others do not “approve of” or “like” the way we live, they are entitled to their point of view, but we are not obligated to accept or take on their views. I have come up with the mantra “live and let live” to help me remember this. I hope that this information might be of help to you.

    • Yes, “we must fully embrace who we are before anyone else will be able to embrace us” — I agree! My mantra is “I don’t have to accept criticism just because it’s offered.” I like yours too. Thanks!

  8. Jenna,
    Thanks so much for allowing the raw and vulnerable aspects of you be known and for acknowledging your own courage for walking your own walk.
    I’m deeply grateful for you, your lessons (as they’re just as much mine…) and your growing expression of Self.

  9. Dear Jenna

    I love so much of what you write here.

    I particularly resonate to what you say about how people can pressure you to be acting quick and getting quick results and it’s so easy to feel that you’re not doing enough or moving fast enough. I was struggling so hard all last year to do, do, do and it never felt like enough. Everything just ground to a halt in October and since then I have been turning within for healing and guidance. I get so impatient some times, like I’m hiding out and copping out. But I know for sure – and continually get reminded by my own inner guidance when I get impatient – that there’s no point in heading off in any direction in a car that’s not ready to go. You have to take the time you need to gain clarity and direction. We all know what happens when you try to free a butterfly from it’s chrysalis before the time is right!

    The other thing that you said that I love is the part about having more fun. If it’s too heavy, if it’s too much stress and strain then you can’t enjoy the moment you’re living in. Being present in the moment and fully enjoying the moment really is what it’s about.

    I also loved what Cindy wrote about needing to be true to ourselves.

    Thank you, Jenna, for your openness, honesty and vulnerability!

    • Jeannette, I’m so glad you’re enjoying what I write. I understand perfectly what you’re talking about. I too, am SO impatient, and yet I can’t rush it simply because I’m told to. Doesn’t work like that, thank goodness. I love your metaphor about a butterfly being freed too early. xoxo

  10. Jenna! You might like to read this interview with Francis Ford Copolla, in which he says, “The artist always battles his own/her own feeling of inadequacy.” It’s towards the end and don’t miss what comes after it. Lots of good ideas in this, although you won’t agree with all:

    Do you know about this intuitive therapist based in Berkeley:
    and this artist/entrepreneur/coach also based in the bay area:

    • Kaye, I LOVED the interview with Francis Ford Coppola. Thank you for sharing it.

      I don’t know about the people you mentioned in the Bay Area, thanks for the info. :)

  11. Michelle Williams says:

    Dear Jenna,

    Thank you for sharing this video I found myself gripped by Brene’s speech, and all the issues that she raised, self doubt, connection, vulnerability these are all indeed difficulties I know I that sometimes face with my day to day life. It can be so easy to fall into a negative pattern and shy away from situations that are challenging and difficult. To hear Brene speak on these issues makes such a difference and you do begin to feel that you are not alone in your quest for happiness.

    Jenna your thoughtfulness and kindness means so much to so many

    Thank you Michelle

    • Michelle, Wasn’t it amazing? Yes, we are not alone in the quest for happiness, thank goodness. Isn’t it an interesting commentary on life that so many of us are searching for it?

  12. Merril Lynn says:

    Dear Jenna,
    As always you bring relevance to my life. Thank you so much for including that link to Brene Brown’s talk. I thought it was wonderful; I hung on every word, feeling it in my heart and soul. I wish I could listen to it each day. It’s one of the things I really need.
    Blessings, Merril

    • Merril, I’m so glad you wrote. Wasn’t she amazing? I’ve been meaning to re-watch it — thanks for the inspiration!
      With love,

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