Vulnerability Hangover

You know how sometimes all things point to the same thing on the same day and it is seemingly random, but actually feels like fate or God or the universe sending you a sign? Is this just me?

While my son was napping yesterday, I sat down to write on an idea that has been simmering awhile. I felt reluctant and sluggish, but instead of procrastinating (as I am wont to do), I kept trying to plug away at it. I was easily distracted, frustrated, annoyed by all my attempts. Nothing was clicking.

Then the words vulnerability hangover started clanging in my head, louder and louder until I couldn’t ignore them.

A friend of mine had recently told me about the term. It’s one that Brené Brown coined in regards to the feeling you have after you’ve put vulnerable parts of yourself out there in any way, shape or form. A speech, a presentation, a heartfelt conversation, a blog post.

I’m not terribly familiar with Brené Brown’s work, though all the elements are there that intrigue me. She’s a fellow social worker, she’s charming and empowering and inspiring and spotlights all the messages I find important. Yet, I have had her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (well, my best friend’s copy that I totally forgot was hers until this moment), sitting on my nightstand for three years and have only read a few parts of it. I guess it’s because I have felt so utterly vulnerable in other parts of my life the past few years (having and raising a baby for the first time), that I just wasn’t ready to confront all the other ways to feel and be vulnerable.

But now I am. Now in this huge surge of motivation and inspiration since launching Brimming, I’ve stepped into my courage to be my authentic, and thus, vulnerable self, out loud.  I’m a very private person, generally. It’s not natural to me to just share and pour my heart out and Brimming has been an exercise in that constant discomfort. Constant vulnerability. Writing and sharing these deep and true parts of myself has been daunting (and amazing. More on that in a minute). And I can feel it starting to catch up with me, just a little. I’m in the midst of a vulnerability hangover.

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All of these years I have been privately typing away at my computer and showing no one outside of my nearest and dearest what I have written. I have not been ready or able to be vulnerable in a real way for fear of being rejected or made fun of or embarrassed. The thing being that if I put my true self out there, it is my true, earnest self getting rejected. If I’m only partially myself, or have all my guards up, rejection won’t feel so shameful or hurtful because it won’t be about the real me, just the perceived me. A rejection I can live with. A palatable rejection.

So sitting down and writing more about my inner workings, more about my true self, more about all the ways I think and am and struggle and believe, just sounded too hard yesterday. I took my own advice about what to do when the words just aren’t coming, and took a break. Instead of writing, I Googled. I Googled vulnerability hangover to learn more about it, which lead me to Brene Brown’s TED Talks (both great), which lead me to Susan Cain’s TED Talk about the importance of introverts in the world and the whole Quiet Revolution movement.

These topics seemed to have reached their peak in the cultural conversation about seven years ago, but I found them today, exactly when I needed them. I needed to hear someone talk about the importance of introverts in the world. I needed to see how essential vulnerability is to making real connections and feeling supported and “whole hearted.”

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This feedback, research and information stopped me short. It made me realize that despite my exhaustion and feeling a little burnt out from peeling back these layers of myself in a public way, I am making true connections because of it. I am, in fact, happier than I have been in a long time. How good it feels to just BE MYSELF.

These connections with long-gone friends, current friends, acquaintances who are becoming friends. The messages I’ve received already, the conversations I’ve had, the most validating and authentic type of conversations (my favorite type of conversations!). The texts that say “I went through this exact same thing,” or “I have felt that way for so long, but never had words for it”. The reason why I write is to get it out of my head, but also to make these exact connections.

These connections, these conversations, have filled me up in a way that no amount of inner criticism or burn out could ever compete. Because the other side of the vulnerability coin, the other side of true rejection, is true acceptance. When you put your real self out there, when you are just your total for-better-or-worse-self, you can also be accepted for that true self, unabashedly, no walls.  It’s thrilling!

As I finished my Googling, I checked my email. There, in my inbox, sat another sign of the day’s emerging theme. A friend of mine sent out an email to our book club with a link: “Signs You’re an INFJ, The World’s Rarest Personality Type“.

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These charts are so fun, more here.

Okay, slight tangent: the INFJ is a rare jewel of Meyer’s-Briggs personality types. A simultaneous dreamer and doer. A creative empath who is fiercely loyal with unequivocal convictions, who also gets super tired being around people. The counselor, the protector. To break it down by literary characters, it’s the Remus Lupin, the Daeynerys Targaryen, the Galadriel. And it happens to be the type of all four of us from that book club. I remember how we connected instantly during our first session, we were all so comfortable being ourselves instantly. A rare event. When we all found out we were INFJs, it sealed the deal that this was a special group we had formed.

Therefore, to get this email and read this article and be reminded of these important connections moments after finishing this long internet dive into vulnerability, introversion, and all the ways my personality is informing my work right now, was completely wild. You say coincidence, I say blog post.

Because here before me was all this evidence. That despite my feelings and my fears, I made, make, will continue to make, true connections, true friendships, the more myself I am, the more authentic I am, the more exposed I become. Not boundary-less, but not closed off either.

So here I am with another vulnerable blog post. Well, a little hair of the dog always helps with a hangover.

2 thoughts on “Vulnerability Hangover

Add yours

  1. So, interestingly, in a presentation I saw last year, the work of Brene Brown was cited numerous times. I watched those same TED talks and came away with new insights and understandings.

    Liked by 1 person

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