Why I’m Getting Naked For 3,737 People

on July 18, 2011 | in Featured, Life in General | by

Every week, I get naked in front of thousands of people.

I don’t do it by stripping off my jacket or my jeans. You won’t find any high heels or skivvies on my floor. (Sorry, guys.)

You see, instead of shedding my clothes, I shed the mask that I’ve been wearing. I stop pretending to be that girl who has it all together and instead, I tell the truth: I am imperfect, I am confused, I am sometimes needy. I am lonely, I am scared, I don’t have my life all figured out. Sometimes I feel like a little girl in a big person’s shoes, chasing after dreams that I don’t deserve or perhaps am not even capable of achieving.

Yep, I get naked every week, stripping down to my very core for the world to see. I do it every time I write this blog.

At first, I was petrified of taking off my figurative clothes. Would people think I was crazy? Would they laugh at me? Could I really tell the whole world that I didn’t have it all together? Could I really expose my heartbreak or my need or the fact that I wasted 94% of my time on stupid crap? Could I really share my wisdom and my heartfelt aspirations and my dreams?

Could I really show the real me?

I was scared sh*tless. People would laugh at me; I just knew it. People would hate me. People would think that my grand notions were preposterous. “What the hell do you know?” I imagined that people would say. “Who do you think you are?” The impending criticism swirled around in my head like a thick cloud of smoke. “This is not safe,” the voice inside my head told me over and over and over again.

But despite the fear, I had no choice but to write. I was drawn to it with a strange compulsion— I couldn’t not do it, and so I began. Three and a half months ago, I hit “publish” for the very first time and then cringed, waiting for a barrage of negative feedback and awkwardness to hit.

But guess what?

None of those things happened. In fact, instead of laughing at me or ridiculing me, a lot of people actually got it.

“I feel the exact same way,” said acquaintances, many whom I hadn’t been in touch with for years. They suddenly went out of their way to talk to me and to contribute their own thoughts and feelings.

My conversations with my friends and family started to become more real— instead of talking about Billy from high school or what’s on sale at Nordstrom, we began to discuss love and loss and finding our paths in life. “I never knew these things about you,” people would say, reacting with interest and respect, not with disdain.

And the more I opened up, the more others opened, too. As I shared stories about my questions and struggles, I began to receive e-mail after e-mail from strangers who were brave enough to share their own stories with me. It turned out that I wasn’t the only person who felt lost— people could relate. They were relieved to discover that they weren’t alone after all. Person by person, word by word, I became opened. I became real. I became happier.

* * *

VULNERABILITY, NAKEDNESS, EXPOSURE: we fear that these things will destroy us. We fear that dropping our façades and exposing our imperfections will result in alienation— that our insecurities and struggles make us different and unworthy and alone. And so we hide our true selves, because who could love someone with such imperfection?

But it turns out, instead, that our vulnerabilities are what connect us. They are what make us human; they are what make us beautiful; they are what make us real. People— that is, the right sort of people— respond deeply to that which is most real within us.

“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful”

– Brené Brown

And the truth is that, well, WE ALL WANT TO BE NAKED.

Yep, every single one of us has the longing inside to allow ourselves to be naked— to be vulnerable, to be imperfect, to expose our deepest selves and to be accepted just as we are.

And guess what? Whether we know it or not, this acceptance is here for each one of us. Each of our feelings, our struggles, our deepest hopes and fears, are met in each and every moment. But before we can experience this, we must first do the bravest thing that any person can do: we must muster the courage to tell our own truths, and to do it with all of our hearts. Brené Brown, Ph.D, writes:

“The root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage literally had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”

Did you catch that?

Courage is not about slaying a dragon or saving a princess or eschewing your fear. Courage is simply about putting your vulnerabilities on the line and telling your own truth, your own story, with all of your heart.

“Speaking honestly and openly about who we and about our experiences (good and bad) is the ultimate act of courage”

– Brené Brown

You don’t have to tell your story to the whole world— in fact, oftentimes it’s best not to. But begin mustering the courage to strip yourself down, even if it’s just in front of God, or your dog, or your closest friend. Wherever it is that you can begin to feel safe, start right there and tell your truth.

“I’ve never felt truly loved” – it’s OK to say that.

“I don’t know where the heck I’m going” – it’s OK to say that, too.

“I need help. I can’t do this alone” – yep, that’s OK also.

Whether you’re hurt or ashamed or ecstatic or scared, it’s OK to be that, and it’s OK to be here. You don’t have to pretend that you’re anything you aren’t. I promise you– your realness is beautiful.

So go ahead, get naked. Stop telling stories and start telling your story. The world could use a hell of a lot more real.

# # #

[Image credit: Thomas Hawk]

related posts

  • therese

    Oops… I have no idea how I accidentally disabled the comments when first posting this… anyways, they are open now… sorry guys! I probably already missed out on a lot of your feedback :(

  • Pingback: The Suckiness Diaries: How to Survive When Life Gets Shitty | The Unlost()

  • Sally Grandi

    Therese, I just stumbled upon your blog through Facebook. I LOVE your posts… Really enlightening to read!

    • therese

      Thanks, Sally! So good to hear from you :)

  • Cher

    REAL~ly a great post.


    you are onto something called Real Love.

    • therese

      Thanks Cher!

  • Pingback: » Being Single: Turning Down The Perfect Man Good Women Project()

  • Pingback: Guest Post: How to Allow Your Passion to Organically Evolve — Life After College by Jenny Blake()

  • “Speaking honestly and openly about who we and about our experiences (good and bad) is the ultimate act of courage”

    This quote is dead on … It’s absolutely terrifying to verbalize your hopes, dreams & experiences out loud to a group of people (or even a single person, for that matter).

    Fortunately, the feeling of complete serenity the moment after you do so pays of the risk you’ve taken.

    I’ve only achieved that moment when I was speaking 100% truthfully … Can’t lie your way into it, which is what makes that feeling so valuable and rare.

    Keep preachin’ the truth.


    • therese

      Hey Mike, I completely agree that the risk it well worth it– IF you do so in the presence of the right person or group. Thanks for stopping by :)

  • Pingback: Is Your Facebook Newsfeed Making You Dumber? | The Unlost()

  • Ben

    What a misleading title. =P But then again, as I peruse your blog, the quality of your posts can only mean that it was absolutely intentional. That being said, I think there’s a lot of merit to what you say regarding how we all just want to be naked. Being real is something that the world can most certainly use a lot more of. But here’s a question I pose to you: How does one blog about someone’s job with an uncensored tongue when in reality there could be repurcussions in the event one of your co-workers discovers your blog? That’s one I’ve been wrestling with as of late.

    • therese

      Of course it was intentional :). That’s a good question, Ben… for one, I don’t mention the company I work for or any specifics about my job. Secondly, I don’t really say anything too bad about it… all I say is that it isn’t my passion, and I’ll tell that to the faces of anyone I work with. So for me, it’s really not a big deal. If you’re going to be blogging uncensored about your job, then that’s definitely a risk and could even land you in some legal stuff (possibly?) if you specifically name the company. Sorry I can’t really be of much more help here…

      • minu

        :) I normally can’t get myself to read texts of this size, but yours simply hit a nerve. And it’s so good to read what you write about your job, as I’m having the exact same issues or, let’s say, I’m handling my blogging next to my job in the same way.

  • Hi Therese, I just discovered your blog through @FearfulGirl and you are now officially my new favourite thing on the internet! Your website is genius :) I LOVED this post and know exactly how you feel. I hit ‘publish’ for the first time 3 weeks ago and was terrified that no one would read it/like it. I was blown away by the positive response I received and feel a renewed faith in people and myself. Your website is really exciting and I look forward to reading more xxx

    • Thank you, Hannah! And congrats on your journey! Like I said in my comment on your post, it’s so apparent that you have found your path. I think that when people really show their souls and allow that realness to come out, other people can sense it and are drawn to it. Thanks for reaching out and stay in touch :)

  • Yes! GET NAKED! It’s the only way to live. I wrote a similar blog about a year ago, but wasn’t bold enough to share it with many people. You are so inspiring, Therese! Please keep writing and doing what you’re doing. You have no idea (well you probably do) how many lives you are setting free of the limitations they put on themselves. You’re awesome. CRACK!

    • I do find that the more I open myself up and become vulnerable, the more that it frees others to do so as well. It works the same way no matter who’s doing it ;-). Would love to see your blog– send a link my way!

  • Therese….the more I read from you, the more I respect you and love what you’re doing.

    I’ve been going through a sort of transformation in my life but there is still a lot about me that I keep hidden inside. I just opened up a new post in my blog and will be writing another personal story for my readers thanks to you. :)

    Thanks for being vulnerable and being open with us all.

    • Love this, Chris… can’t wait to see it. Being vulnerable is scary sometimes, but I’ve found that in the end the benefits far outweight the risks. When you allow yourself to open up, other people see the real you and my experience has been that they respond deeply to that. In turn, it frees other people to open up as well and to realize that they aren’t as alone as they thought they were. A win/win the way I see it…

      • It’s definitely scary. From some of the posts that I have written and was scared to publish, I ended up getting the most positive results from these posts.

        I’ve got notes written down, but right now it’s only just random ramblings at this point… I’ll need to take time to turn it into a post that will make sense.

  • Pingback: Ser soltera: Rechazar al hombre perfecto.()

  • Jenn Gonsalves

    Thank you! I need this exact post! I have been writing my blog (admittedly somewhat sporadically) for months now, and have shared it with exactly TWO people (who have yet to even comment on it). I have been way too scared to post a link to my blog on Facebook or share it with family and friends. But I’ve been inspired by your site today, and I included a link to my blog in another comment I left on another post here – a tiny baby step, but it’s one in the right direction. And I think this post here will help give me a further nudge to take the chance and “get naked” and share it with the world…thanks again!

    • Hey Jenn,

      Good for you for writing your blog! Sharing your vulnerabilities and your deepest truths takes COURAGE– lots of it– but don’t berate yourself for being scared.

      “You don’t have to tell your story to the whole world— in fact, oftentimes it’s best not to. But begin mustering the courage to strip yourself down, even if it’s just in front of God, or your dog, or your closest friend. Wherever it is that you can begin to feel safe, start right there and tell your truth.”

      We all have to find our “safe place” to start telling our own truths. Whether that’s in front of the whole world or just in front of ourselves, the important thing is that we’re being honest and open and vulnerable in whatever capacity we’re currently able.

      Who you are and what you’re feeling and experiencing right now– that is OK exactly as it is. YOU are OK just as you are. Just because you are.


      • Jenn Gonsalves

        Therese, you’re the best – how do you know just the right thing to say?? You really are blessed with a gift and I know I’m not the only one who is glad that you’re sharing it with the world. :) Looking forward to hearing how your adventures are going on the road! Will you make it to Philly…?
        And you’re so right – I think that’s what writing my blog has been about, feeling safe in being me, even if it’s just in front of myself and my computer screen. Your running theme about being the “truest form of you” really resonates with me. I keep thinking of the Dr. Seuss quote, I think you used it in one of your posts, that says there can be no one youer than you. I’m working on being my, well, ME-est! :)

        • Ah, love it, let’s be friends!!??!!! I’m planning on making it to the Philly area if all works out…

          • Jenn Gonsalves

            Love it too!! xoxo :)

  • I LOVE this……this is epic writing, about truth and heart….and that’s the guts of it, isn’t it?
    It’s the gritty stuff that makes the difference between ok and awesome. Truth. Heart.

    Glad I found you.

  • Pingback: The Facebook Mistake You Don’t Know You’re Making: Guest Post Therese Schwenkler | Paul Angone | All Groan Up()

  • Pingback: Advice To You From a Gen Y Trailblazer | FreshWisdom()

  • Therese,

    I had a similar experience when I started writing for my blog. I kept worrying about how my content would be received and I faced a ridiculous amount of resistance with anything that I tried to write. It was so scary…

    The funny thing is… once you start putting yourself out there, you begin to let go of your ego and become centered in yourself again.

    I think people today (more than ever) are just dying for someone to be authentic and show their vulnerability. FYI you are very authentic with your writing :)

    • Yes, so true on both accounts — as far as putting yourself out there and also as far as the fact that people are dying for authenticity.

      Thanks for stopping by, Ben :)

« »