Heart on My Name Tag

Some people wear their heart on their sleeve.

I wear my heart in bold on a name tag.

I am certain no one has ever looked at me and said, “I just wonder what she’s thinking.” They already know. Sometimes I forget the  proper social order of things and announce how I feel before even greeting someone.

“I AM SO DEVASTATED RIGHT NOW OMG. Oh, hey Em, good to see you.”

For awhile, I went through a phase where I wanted to be super mysterious. I wanted to be the quiet, mysterious girl that kept to herself and everyone wondered about. It didn’t last very long and my tongue hurt from biting it so much. It was a health risk.

I live my life as an open book. The surgeon who removed my wisdom teeth was up to date on my girl’s weekend that I was about to have, I have announced breakups at staff meetings and I love sharing my life with other people. I write long notes to waitresses and have met more friends in a grocery store than I care to admit.

Would have missed out on a short-lived, but full relationship with Zac Efron if I wouldn’t have put myself out there.

There are amazing benefits to living life with your heart open and exposed to the world:

1. Simple things in life are richer: errands around town turn into short but sweet conversations with strangers that leave you smiling. Why would you stand in the check out line silently when you could compliment the girl’s bag in front of you and get to know her? I try to talk to a stranger a day. Terrible advice for children but great advice for trying to make the world a happier place

2. Relationships are deeper and more fulfilling: I don’t have any surface level friendships. To me, what’s the point? My friends feel comfortable being vulnerable with me, because I am open and vulnerable with them. I have 25 best friends, but not because I am the coolest person ever, simply because each and every one of my friendships are deep and meaningful. Work friends, church friends, school friends, gym friends; what an amazing blessing I have because of my willingness to be open. I have most likely cried into the arms of 20 of my closest friends.

3. It’s more fun: I love my job. I am incredibly emotionally invested in my job. When my students succeed, I cry. The students don’t even react anymore. They are used to it. I love them so much and I am bursting with such joy when they do amazing things, I just cry. The emotional rollercoaster is good for them (actually, I really don’t know, ask my friend Aimee, the Social Worker). Laughter is deeper and conversations are richer. Life is amazing out here.

4. You don’t have to spend your life wondering: I don’t have anything, not ONE thing, I could look back on in my life and wonder, “What if…?” What if I would have told him? What if she didn’t know how much I loved her? I take chances when many people would let fear of being hurt stop them.

I would rather live with the sting of rejection than the sinking feeling of never knowing what might have been.

As incredible as it is out here with my heart on the line, I would be a liar if I said there weren’t any negative implications to this life. It isn’t for everyone, and if you tend to live life a little more closed-off and guarded, I would not advise diving head first into this world I live.

As I get older and experience more in life, I am learning that there are times I need to retreat a bit. Contrary to my previous beliefs,  not everyone NEEDS to know everything about me all of the time.

While most people have to learn to open up and let people in, I am learning that I have to, in a sense, keep some people out.

I wouldn’t trade this way of life for anything, but living your life out in the open is so, incredibly risky. For me, the benefits outweigh the bad, but I know that some people just couldn’t handle the hurt that comes along with being so emotionally vulnerable.

I am essentially always vulnerable to rejection and being hurt. Whether it is someone not receiving your nice words at the grocery store the way you wanted them to, or someone not reciprocating the same feelings you have shared with them, there is incredible risk to the open life I live. The safe thing to do is not tell the stranger what an amazing haircut she has, or to keep your feelings to yourself. It’s so safe. No risk.

This blog is a risk. While I certainly censor the details and really personal information about my life on here, I do share my heart and my feelings with the entire world. 99% of my experiences with this have been the most amazing blessing of my life.

However, that other 1% is tough. I recently received a string of text messages attacking my blog, my character and my relationship with God from a person who knew me for less than a moon cycle. Although in my heart I know vengeful words say more about the person saying them then they do about me, it is still hurtful to not be liked and to be judged by someone who doesn’t truly have any idea who I am.

It’s hard when someone has a problem with me.

It bothers me when someone doesn’t agree with me.

It hurts when someone doesn’t feel the same way.

But, living out here in this world, you learn to bounce back quickly.

I never stay down for long. My heart is a little elastic rubber band. When it hurts, it hurts deeply for awhile. I feel it, I let it happen, and then I bounce back.

I am not saying that my way is the best way. In fact, it’s probably not. But I would encourage anyone who tends to live life closed off to open themselves up to trying parts of my world (Not all of my world; remember I have had 25 years of training being myself. The Surgeon General warns against immediate immersion into this lifestyle)

I love people. I love connecting with them and loving them and hurting with them and understanding them and walking alongside them. If I leave one legacy in this life, I want it to be about the way I love and how I put myself out there, unafraid.

The way I take the love Jesus has for me and turn it into love for other people. The love I am able to give doesn’t even come close to the perfect love given to me, but darn it if I don’t spend my whole life trying to imitate it.

Blessings, not chins


Chose this picture for this post because it shows me at my most raw, real self. Air dried hair, not a drop of makeup, in my dad’s baggy sweatshirt and forcing my nephew to watch the musical I wrote for him over and over. Jenna in all her glory.









5 Comments Add yours

  1. I wish I was brave enough to talk to strangers, but I’ve always just been the guy that keeps to himself. I like to express myself through writing and that is enough for me. But kudos to your for being brave enough to talk to stranger.s .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. wanderinginmytwenties says:

    Wow. We are very similar in many aspects. I think talking to strangers is a skill that many people lack. I just love human interaction. Even if it’s a simple 5 minute conversation, you can truly make someone’s day!


    1. jennakay says:

      Girl I feel like you are my soul sister! Haha- I can’t imagine a life of not taking to total strangers…you said it perfectly…I just love human interaction! It empowers me…what is strange is that I am an introvert and have to recharge and energize alone- but once those batteries are charged- watch out world! Haha

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa Kear says:

    Just wait until you turn 50! You have a ways to go but trust me, turning 50 was so freeing. I don’t care what people think about me, (you see I have always been an open book…what you see is what you get….I have no secrets….heart on my sleeve kind of gal…..worried about one of my kids? You are going to see it on my face b4 I open my mouth). After 50, it takes A LOT to hurt my feelings. Unless you say something sacra religious, I will NOT be offended. The 50’s are wonderful. I say “If I had wanted everyone to like me, I would have gone to work at a dress shop.”
    Keep writing….you are amazing…


    1. jennakay says:

      This makes me so happy! I am glad I am not alone, but more and more I feel unusual as so many people hide their true feelings or pretend to be something they’re not, especially on social media! I am guilty of that too, but I try hard to be as real as can be! I am also working on not being offended easily… That comes a little tougher! Especially with being a writer and having so many people read and have opinions, I am learning that I need to grow some thick skin!! Thank you for the smile and encouragement today!


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