The Courage to Show Yourself

Image credit: Kathleen Demey
Text copyright: Jorinde Berben

In this photo I am standing in front of about 40 people whom I’ve known for a week, reading a poem about the very contents of my heart and soul. It felt terrifying, and exhilerating at the same time. In the picture I can now see how much of myself I’m still holding back in that moment. How much I don’t show.

Brené Brown says it perfectly in so many of her talks: showing yourself takes a lot of courage, it makes you feel very vulnerable when you step out into the arena and show yourself as you truly are. Showing all of your talents and your flaws, your highs and your lows, leaves you open to critcism, to ridicule, to pain.

So why do it at all? Why take the risk of doing things like inviting a whole bunch of my friends and family to view this blog, risking that they might not like it, or make fun of it. Why stand in front of 40 people and read a poem, or sing a song? Why speak so openly with a partner about your feelings that you’re afraid they might just leave?

You don’t have to. At least I don’t. There are those people who are just out there, completely themselves. Who say they don’t have a choice in the matter. They can’t be anybody but themselves.
But that’s not me. I’ve gone through most of my life very protective of my own hopes and fears. I only let glimpses of my true colours shine through, with certain people, in very carefully selected moments. In fact, I have been a pastel version of myself for most of my life.

But guess what, when you show up as a pastel person, you get a pastel life. It’s somewhat bland, with pain you push away and joy you can never quite reach. If you really want to commit to Life (yes, the one with the capital L), if you want to dive into its depths and climb its summits, if you want to truly connect to the hearts of people around you, you’ve got to show up for it. And not just in little glimpses of yourself, but in bright colours, completely, openly, and most important of all: vulnerably.

So thank you to all of you who read this. Who take time out of your day to read this text and see me, in all my shades. It’s for you, and for myself, that I try to show up as authentically as possible every single day, every single moment.

P.S. I include this video of Brené Brown for those who’d like to watch it (again).
I’ve seen it a few times over the past 10 years, and it keeps granting me insights, again and again.

4 thoughts on “The Courage to Show Yourself

  1. Thank you for sharing! (and for introducing me to Brené Brown, that’s an interesting Ted Talk :-)) I love how you express it, with the pastels and colours. And it is very recognisable, so I will take your advise and show you some of my true colours: through high school the rejection of others made me put away my bright colours too, made me hide away en built a wall around my heart. I thought that I had dealt with all my issues a decade ago, but it is only in recent years that I’ve discovered that I’ve finally taken down the wall around my heart and taken out my bright coloured brushes. But I still struggle with showing myself to others. It takes a great deal of courage and therefore I applaud you 🙂


    1. I, for one, can’t wait to see more of your bright colours! That wall around us can be high, and feel very safe and comfortable. But it’s also the gilded cage that can hold us back from really spreading our wings. ❤


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