Brene Brown

Exposing Ourselves for the Frauds We Are

Sometimes when I write, I feel like a fraud because I know I am not the best writer out there. I am not the best writer or editor or nurse or friend or any other role I find myself in.

Every time I decide to show up in those roles, a tiny (or not so tiny) voice inside of me cries out that I’m a fraud.

“Watch out!” it warns. “If you do that, they’ll know you’re a fraud. If you write something crappy, they’ll know you aren’t a real writer. If you say something you regret in a conversation, they’ll know you aren’t a true friend. You’ll be exposed!”

It’s very hard to ignore. If I keep listening, the voice continues: “Better not hit ‘publish.’ Better file the document away and eliminate the risk of being found out. Better not call that friend back. Better avoid having to tell him you don’t know the answers to any of his questions.”

Other times when I write, I feel like my most authentic self. I don’t feel like a fraud at all. It’s just me, typing words from the bottom of my heart, to you. 

I’m guessing the same back-and-forth switch happens to you sometimes, too. Sometimes feeling like a fraud, sometimes feeling authentic, even if it’s the very same action in both scenarios. When we know where that persistent voice telling us we’re frauds comes from, it’s much easier to combat it. So what makes the difference?

When we dissect the voice telling us we are frauds, most likely we will find out the root of it has to do with shame. In one of her TED talks, Brené Brown explains how shame plays two tapes: ‘not good enough’ and ‘who do you think you are?’ Both try to convince us we are frauds.

Most of the time, buying into the lie that we are frauds only makes sense if we are, in fact, trying to put up a false front for other people.

I only believe I am a fraud as a writer if I am trying to come across as the best blogger ever to my audience. I only believe I am a fraud as a nurse if I believe I am supposed to be a super-nurse. It has a lot to do with what we think we should be or what we want others to think.

A while back, I met a woman who served overseas with the International Mission Board for a couple years. I had recently returned from spending the summer in Cambodia and was struggling with some hard things I had seen in Cambodia. She shared some of her struggles overseas and how she too had worked with a counselor when she re-entered the States. She shared how on one occasion her counselor said, “You feel weak? Good! You are weak!” This woman said she sat in shock at the blunt blow of the statement before dialogue began again, but the point was this:

We are weak. It’s good to realize that.

Because we really like to put up a front that we’re strong.

If we are brave, we will admit this truth to ourselves. If we are wise, we will admit it to others as well. We can choose not to admit it to others, but often outside forces unexpectedly reveal that we are not who we say (or want others to believe) we are, generally ending in embarrassment and a deeper shame spiral. Embracing truth, however, leads to freedom—and also just to feeling better in general because it means we can be our authentic selves.

I am a writer. I am not the best. Now that we have that out of the way, we can get down to what’s really on my heart that I want to communicate to you.

I am a nurse. I am not the smartest, most experienced healthcare provider there is. Now that we have that out of the way, we can connect and address what you need most right now.

I am a friend. I am not perfect, and I often forget birthdays. Now that we have that out of the way, we can move on to deeper things—the imperfections that make us need friends and community in the first place.

That is the inner fraud exposed. And when the fraud is exposed…suddenly we are not frauds any longer. We are back to our authentic selves, speaking from the bottom of our hearts, one to another.

And that's a much better place to be.

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The Big Hoo-rah about George W. Bush and Shawn Shannon

Today former U.S. president George W. Bush came to UMHB to give a lecture. College students and people in Belton have been talking about this for weeks, and I think for about 48 hours every other post on my Facebook feed will have a #GeorgeW or some mention of this famous Texan man. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. But if Facebook tracked what’s “trending in Belton,” this definitely would make the cut.

All this to say, there has been a great big hoo-rah about it. (Not to be confused with hurrah. My sister once told me hoo-rah wasn’t a word, but it’s fun to say and I still hold that it means something like “a big deal”.)

Anyway, there was a big hoo-rah, and though I am impressed that such a big name came to such a small school in such a small town, I share the sentiment of one of my roommates that “He’s just a man.” 

This morning as I sipped my coffee and ran rather mundane errands, I happened to drive past UMHB right at the time Bush was supposed to start speaking. I had this thought: 

“Isn’t it interesting that when Shawn Shannon (UMHB’s Baptist Student Ministry director) speaks at an event, the whole community doesn’t flock to hear her?” 

Though she makes more of an impact on UMHB's campus than any one-time speaker, students don’t sacrifice prime nap time to hear Shawn’s wisdom. I use Shawn as an example because of the substantial mark she’s made in my own life (through both her teaching and her lifestyle), but there are countless others in the community who spend their time quietly challenging, encouraging, and investing in us - day by day, week by week, year by year. 

Yet they do so without the fame. Without the recognition. Without the hoo-rah.

These people, the ones who most impact our lives, tend to be the very people we are least excited to hear from, perhaps because they are so close and so constantly present that we take them for granted.

I recently listened to a talk (via YouTube, of course) by researcher Brené Brown about how we value the approval of the “stranger at the mall” and the people who look down on us much more than we value the acceptance of those who are close to us and freely give their love.(1) She quotes Groucho Marx, who once said, “I sent the club a wire stating, ‘Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.’”(2)

In whatever social arena we find ourselves - work, school, church - we crave the favor of those who don’t accept us, and we often place little value in the opinion and acceptance of those who daily traverse the ups and downs of life with us.

This morning I zipped right past UMHB (actually I more puttered since the speed limit is 30), and I did not regret that I was sitting in my car, sipping coffee, running mundane errands. For though there is excitement over meeting someone famous, whether Bush or Obama or anyone else whose name makes the headlines, in the end, it’s just that: meeting them. Not doing life together, celebrating the end of another work week, or grieving a loss.

The Lord’s been teaching me quite a bit about valuing His constant, quiet, faithful companionship, and He's been teaching me about valuing the love of those around me, too - those who support me in their unassuming yet laudable ways. I suppose this is why if Shawn Shannon had been the one speaking at today’s event, I probably would have made more of an effort to attend.

Even though I didn’t hear his lecture, maybe I did get something from #GeorgeW’s speech today, after all: a reminder to take a moment and appreciate those who love us, support us, and do life with us day by day. So here’s to all of you who quietly make a difference by investing in me and in others as a lifestyle: this may only be a simple blog post, but it’s my way of letting you know there's a big hoo-rah about you in my life.


(1) Brené Brown: Why Your Critics Aren't The Ones Who Count (

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