Texas Conference for Women: Redefining Bravery

Today’s blog post by Courtney Clark is the second in our series about the 2013 Texas Conference for Women. Check out the first blog in the series here. Come back next Tuesday to read the next blog in this series!
Courtney Clark is a cancer survivor, brain aneurysm survivor, and motivational speaker. She is currently researching the role of philanthropy and volunteerism in helping people heal from traumatic life events. Courtney is a nonprofit entrepreneur and development professional proficient in board training, fundraising, outreach, and community relations.
I have to confess.  At last week’s Texas Conference for Women, I was excited about the inspirational speakers.  I was looking forward to networking with like-minded women.  I was prepared to feel professionally rejuvenated.  But there was one session I was planning to take “off.” 
Amidst all the personal and professional growth opportunities, I felt a little guilty for going to The Bloggess’s breakout session.  Like I was having cotton candy in the middle of dinner.  But I’m a huge Bloggess fan, I read her blog almost every night, and there was no way I was going to miss seeing her live and in person, even if it meant I had to prioritize her over other great (probably more mainstream) sessions.
I skipped the ultra-long line for the bathroom (props to the woman who admitted on Twitter that she thought to use the men’s room, which was OBVIOUSLY empty at the Texas Conference for Women!  Duh!) and raced to the room to get a front row seat for the Bloggess, ready to laugh and be silly with one of my favorite blog authors. 
I did laugh.  I definitely did.  But Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess, also made me think about bravery in a new way.  You see, Jenny struggles with depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety.  In fact, before the session, she sat in a quiet, tucked away corner in the back of the room to get her anxiety under control, yet she was gracious whenever some rabid fan (it was NOT me, I swear!) came sneaking up to capture a secret iPhone picture. 
Jenny’s bravery shone through as she talked about carrying her daughter to term after several scary miscarriages.  It was obvious when she told us about getting her first blog deal, then book deal.  She was the very definition of bravery by even getting up and speaking in front of a standing room only crowd.
But I started thinking about what bravery really means when she admitted how hard it was the first time she was honest on her blog.  When she said the words “I have mental illness.”  When she admitted to not always being, in her words, “furiously happy.”  How often do we – all of us – pretend that our lives are perfect?  Heck, that’s practically the PURPOSE of social media!  “Look at how sweet my boyfriend is, he got me flowers!” “Look at how adorable my kids are, smiling in the pumpkin patch!” “I just got a promotion!” “I just cooked this delicious meal!”  It’s not necessarily bad that we trumpet our success on social media.  But it makes us hesitant to share our failures and admit to our shadows.
Bloggess Jenny Lawson is hysterically funny.  But she is unashamedly, unabashedly real.  And that’s the honest truth. 

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