On Trust: B.R.A.V.I.N.G.

Posted on February 1, 2016


Don’t know if you’ve ever fallen head over in love with a qualitative researcher (my, my, how my idols have changed!), but in the past two years, Brené Brown has stolen my heart and filled it with data about vulnerability, courage, and authenticity. It’s funny how someone I’ve never met can give a talk or write something, and I left feeling like it’s meant specifically for me. Her new talk, Anatomy of Trust, is no different.

It’s like she’s peering into my soul. With her big, researcher-y eyes.

She talks about trust being this acronym BRAVING, and in reflecting upon my journey over the years, I can’t help but witness how I’ve meandered through each of these (Boundaries, Reliable, Accountable, Vault, Integrity, Nonjudgment and Generosity) – sometimes intentionally, sometimes by accident, but always moving toward a greater trust of self. Of all these, I think the Boundaries component is most striking to me because it’s something I’ve struggled with in continuing to write this blog.

B. (oundaries) 

When I first left the industry over six years ago, I had no boundaries. I was like thinly-sliced swiss cheese, filled with holes, almost translucent. Everything came in and everything went out. Perhaps that’s why BecomingJennie was such a significant part of my life. The support here literally filled me with courage to keep on trying, and I let each and every struggle and victory, emotion and thought flow out uncensored. Your love filled me so much that, at a certain point, I had to turn off the comments to keep from overflowing; It filled me in this way that I had no room left to fill myself. It was all you. I am so grateful for that time, because I couldn’t fill myself. That AA adage, “We will love you until you can love yourself” rang so true for me in this space. You loved me until I could love myself.

A few years ago, probably around the time I stopped updating and the time I published I am Jennie, I realized I needed to develop better boundaries around what pieces of me I share and what pieces of me I keep private. When I published the book, I did so with the thought, “Now I don’t have to answer for shit because if someone wants to know ‘my story,’ there is ample literature on it. I don’t have any skeletons in my closet.” Yet, I realized that even though BecomingJennie helped me stay honest by sharing what some might consider “skeletons,” allowing everything to flow in and out didn’t actually make me healthier.

It’s an interesting thing for me now to explore – this boundaries thing on BecomingJennie – because I think part of what made the blog so successful was my unabashed sharing, my raw vulnerability, my unfettered honesty. When I started this blog, I lived so much in my head that I didn’t worry about other people. Whether it was true or not, I felt utterly alone.  But today I have people in my life who mean so much to me that I’m afraid to share about my private experiences with them. Whether the person is me, my friend, family member or client, I don’t want to exploit privacy. They trust me. I trust me.

That trust is sacred to me.

Moving Forward

So how do I continue updating BecomingJennie? How do I continue making it honest, raw and authentic, but maintain the trust and sacred-nature of the meaningful relationships in my life, especially the relationship that I now have with myself?

For this space, it means a bit of a revamp. It means that most of the posts will be facing outward, while only peripherally or tangentially focusing on me and my shit (I’m not nearly as interesting as I once was/once thought I was… trust me). There’s a voice in my head that says, “Maybe they won’t like it anymore. Maybe redirecting this space to health, wellness and creative explorations will result in failure. Maybe people will hate the new “healthy-boundaries me,” and will leave. Maybe this space – which was once super successful and meaningful to me – will fail.” I feel super vulnerable when I think about changing the direction BecomingJennie.

Creativity is infused with vulnerability. Change is required in creativity.

But with creative vulnerability comes the potential for greatness. Brené Brown often quotes Theodore Roosevelt, and his words resonate to the deepest parts of my being.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.


 Living courageously means that I will undoubtedly fail; It might be here, it might be somewhere else. If you hate it, and if the new BecomingJennie fails, it’s okay.

I can live with failure, and I can handle rejection.

When I fail, or when I’m rejected, I want it to be in the arena of life.