February 4, 2014

Vulnerability Hangover

Last week I shared a lot, publicly. On Flickr I paired self-portrait with poem; on my blog I published an honest essay and new plans for the uncertain future. These felt natural; they weren't forced. It was a push I needed at this particular time. But I was bare. Publicly bare.

I recall Brene Brown naming a "vulnerability hangover" after millions watched her first TED talk. That's how I felt last week. Hungover from the rawness and vulnerability. I realized this not through meditation or writing. I saw it in my actions. I was strangely drawn to Flickr and my blog in an obsessed way--checking for comments and external strokes. And when those came, I still wasn't satisfied. I wanted more. Because those comments weren't true refuge. My true refuge: feeling the rawness--the vulnerability--and tending to myself.

It was then (after days of painful online checking) that I realized: I laid myself bare, in multiple ways, in public. That's okay and I'm okay, but I need some self-care. I need to hold my own hand. To honor my tenderness. 

I think about social media and its impact on our cultural psyche. There are many positive connections made. Yet we've become a society of likes and re-tweets, as if this defines our value. It's a tricky path to navigate. For me, last week, I fell into my-worth-is-measured-by-externals mode. Not surprising given my rawness and my well-grooved habits of protection. Yet that isn't a place I want to inhabit. My intention is to make art, share stories, and be real--as a way of life. My intention is to know my basic goodness, as is. To not look elsewhere for something that's always inside. And when that's my intention, I'm more content, spacious, and genuine. 

Friends, thank you for your kindness. I appreciate this support, deeply. But with or without the comments, I'll keep writing and taking photographs. I'll keep sharing my wide swath of life experiences.  And I'll keep re-remembering that everything I need is already inside of me.


  1. You are brave and I crave the kind of honesty you share.
    Thank you for being you. xo

  2. Your post deeply resonates...I struggle with this also. Every time I share a poem, I feel temporarily exposed and vulnerable. Like you, I have to remind myself that what matters is the joy I felt while writing it, and that sharing it can be a joy, too. I loved your thoughts, and your photos!

  3. I too have an almost need for reinforcement when I post, this is something that I'm working on I know in my heart my writing is for me...

  4. Beautiful insight, Joy. Thank you for sharing. I too find myself in "external validation" mode, but your words- both now and in the past ("you are not your grade")- offer a moment to reflect on what really matters.
    I'm grateful for that, and for you.

  5. you are all such truthful, talented, beautiful women. this message resonates for us all. and i'm honored to be on the path with you.

  6. Beautifully written...so much peace in entering and owning our own story...the hustle for worthiness (the alternative) is exhausting!

    1. yes, denise, exhausting. that's such an apt word. thanks for sharing.