Why I’m Pausing from the Authentic Project

Many of you have been reading my Authentic Project posts each week and volunteering to be interviewed, which means the world to me. The fact that I get the opportunity to sit down with beautiful women and hear their beautiful stories is already pretty awesome, but then add the fact that people actually want to be part of what I’m doing? Amazing.

Here’s the thing, though: The Authentic Project was NEVER meant to be just me.

I know that it was months ago when I first shared my vision for the Authentic Project, but there was a caveat many have seemed to brush over or dismiss since that day.

As much as I knew I was going to enjoy sitting down with girls and interviewing them about the things God has put on my heart, I also felt deep down that I couldn’t do this forever. Not only that, but I couldn’t do this alone.

This is why I encouraged other women to submit their own Authentic Project interviews from the get-go. I envisioned my inbox flooding with emails from women who are bravely sitting down with others and having the same crucial conversations. I pictured an army of authentic women rising up, choosing to lay down their armor and invite others to be vulnerable alongside them.

But I haven’t seen a single woman take the initiative to do the same thing.

So I’m just going to assume that you missed the memo and the thought never occurred to you. And that’s why I’m going to make sure you don’t miss it again.

The Authentic Project requires you.

I know you’re busy. I know that a lot of people demand a lot of things from you. I know that your responsibilities have been piling up and it’s getting to be too much. I know you’ve been trying so hard to get your priorities in order and it’s just not working. I know all of these things because I’m there with you.

I laugh with people about how often I’m at Starbucks conducting these interviews, but during the busy, chaotic weeks it’s actually not so funny. My weekly budget basically consists of tithing, saving, and Starbucks-spending. Throughout the week, I’m constantly trying to schedule meetings, give each woman at least an hour or two of my time, and transcribe what I’m recording during these sessions so the interviews are ready to be posted every Friday.

It’s a lot of work and I’m easily exhausted because I’m trying to do it all on my own.

This is why I am choosing to pause from this project for a moment. I don’t want you to think that I am quitting because I am NOT giving up this project whatsoever. I am still just as committed to the Authentic Project, if not more. My vision remains clear and my heart is still beating for this cause. Yet I need to stop for a second and catch my breath. I also want to allow other women to catch up to me.

I’m not going to get down on my knees and beg for someone to do the Authentic Project with me, but I am encouraging every woman who is reading this to try. I know that what’s on my heart isn’t necessarily on your heart, but I also know there ARE those who are on the same page as me and are just as eager to see the Authentic Project in action as I am.

If you are regularly reading the Authentic Project interviews, are in support of what I am doing, or have actually expressed interest in the project to me in person, I am speaking specifically to you.

You have no idea how humbling and moving having these “interviews” (which are, in essence, conversations) can be. I’ve sat across from crying women as they share with me many of the same struggles I have in my own life. I’ve left interviews with a deeper compassion than when I walked in and a stronger conviction than when I first started.

The more I’ve done this, the more easy it’s become. The questions I ask are memorized, yet over time I’ve found myself able to instantly invent new ones and easily guide the conversation along. These interviews aren’t difficult when you are being moved by an authentic interest and care. I’ve even become a slightly better Instagram photographer.

I so badly want you to experience what being on THIS side of the Authentic Project is like.

If there’s even the slightest amount of curiosity in you, I would love to see you try conducting an Authentic Project interview following these steps:

authentic HOW TO

Step One: Find a woman, any woman.

Step Two: Ask that woman to sit down for coffee or lunch. Heck, invite her into your home. Tell her what you’re going to be doing so she’s not caught off guard.

Step Three: Use a smart phone to record your interview.

Step Four: Begin interviewing. The questions I use are listed below, but feel free to create your own. I often add in unplanned questions between answers, depending on where the interview takes us. This “free flow spontaneity” is called having a normal, intentional conversation.

  • What are some of the things you want to do with the rest of your life?
  • What do you think is one of the hardest parts about being a woman?
  • What do you think is one of the hardest parts about being you?
  • Do you find it hard to be vulnerable? Why or why not?
  • What would you say or do if you weren’t afraid of being vulnerable?
  • What do you feel like you need the most from people in your life right now?
  • What do you feel like you need the most from God?
  • Who is one person you want to be more authentic with?

Step Five: Take a picture of that woman. I usually take fifteen or so pictures so I can let them pick the one they like best. And yes, I would ask them to pose. Don’t hate because you know the pictures end up looking cute.

Step Six: Go home and transcribe pieces of the interview that resonate with you or you know could resonate with someone else. I call these pieces “snippets.” If you’re too lazy to do this step, find a way to send me the audio file of the interview and I’ll most likely be able to transcribe it for you.

Step Seven: Send me an email at jessienyland@gmail.com with the name of the woman you interviewed, the pictures of that woman that you took, and the snippets of the interview you transcribed. I will combine everything into an Authentic Project post.

Step Eight: If you are pleased with what you read after the interview you send me is published, do it all over again. And again.

That might not sound simple to you right now, but I promise it becomes easier the more you do it. The hardest part is being willing to set aside the time for it. The Authentic Project requires intentional communication, but I believe this is one of the reasons for why it’s meant so much to so many people. A lot of us want to see more intentional, authentic women in this world.

If you choose to begin doing this with me, even if you just decide to do one interview, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

If you’re thinking of conducting an Authentic Project interview, let me know so I can encourage you and be of assistance (also so I can hold you accountable when you feel like chickening out). Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you might have. For further clarification, it might help to look at some of the past interviews I have published.

Again, this project needs you. I need you. I don’t want to beg, but I won’t lie either.

Thank you for considering being part of this project with me. My vision always was and still is for more and more women to be a part of this movement of intentionality and authenticity.

In the meantime, you will keep seeing interviews being published on my blog —  not every week, but a little each month. I would love to sit down with each and every woman to hear her stories and what’s on her heart. I will continue to do so as much as I am able.

But because I’m only one woman, I’m calling out to any woman who is listening: Be a part of the Authentic Project with me and see what happens.


  1. regannking

    I just saw this post since I’ve been offline for a while but I would love to do this! I did not know until now that you wanted more people to be involved, so I’m super excited to jump in and do this!

    • jessienyland

      Yes! That would be amazing! Thank you so much! I’m actually just about to start doing my own interviews again, too. I enjoyed the break, but missed meeting so many awesome girls!

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