Dr. Brene Brown, who gave a wildly popular TED talk (over 19 million views!) called The Power of Vulnerability, says a vulnerability hangover is:
“The feeling that sweeps over us after we feel the need to connect– and we share something deeply meaningful. Minutes, hours, or days later, we begin to feel regret sweep over us like a warm wave of nausea.”
In a follow-up TED talk, she admitted:
“I woke up the morning after I gave that Talk with the worst vulnerability hangover of my life. And I actually didn’t leave my house for about three days.”
Obviously, I operate on a much smaller scale than Brene Brown, but after announcing a couple of weeks ago that my 7th novel, Temple Secrets, is out, I felt the same way. I just wanted to find a nice rock to crawl under. At least for a little while. Luckily it didn’t last more than a few days.
Like most career writers, I pour everything I have into my books. All my creativity, my humor, my 20 years of knowledge in how to write a good story. All of it. And I work on a manuscript for YEARS, making it the best book I can possibly make it. Even seven books later, it is still a big deal to let them go. They are like children I’ve protected and nurtured that I release into the big/bad/wonderful world to be read and reviewed and perhaps even ignored. Not easy.
I could be wrong about this, but I wonder if vulnerability hangovers happen mostly to women. (I’d love to hear what the men reading think about this.) Especially those of us who have been told by our culture and families to stay small and pretty and not speak our minds or share our imaginations.
As a result, any time we do something bold, brave or even the least bit different than the people around us, we feel threatened, exposed and vulnerable.
As the character Queenie would say in Temple Secrets: “Sweet God in Heaven, what was I thinking?!”
The GOOD NEWS is: if we have vulnerability hangovers, that means we’re living a bigger life.
It means we’re putting ourselves out there in the arena (another Brene Brown saying) and perhaps putting our work out there, too.
Some might think of this as the hero’s journey or the road less traveled. It is the stretch required of a bigger life. A stretch that feels scary, but that tells us we’re still growing and reaching for the light and making the effort to spread our light to others.
Have you had a vulnerability hangover lately? I hope so. xo
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