The Vulnerability Hangover

Posted by | · · · · · · · · · | Blog Posts · Continuing the Conversation · Library | No Comments

The Vulnerability Hangover

by Jess Bellingham

If you have ever had any involvement in the Forum, chances are you have also experienced what we interns like to call the ‘vulnerability hangover’. Unlike a regular hangover, the vulnerability hangover has nothing to do with mixing drinks, lack of hydration and flashbacks to dancing on the table. However, much like the classic, alcohol induced hangover, the vulnerability hangover has a lot to do with loss of control, revealing more of yourself than you usually would, and being pushed way past your comfort zone.

The Cause: – Lets flash back for a minute to your small group meetings at Forum. The first meeting seems pretty harmless, you do the usual mingle; scoping each other out based on what you are studying, what you do for work and whether or not you would made a decent world dominator. However, by the second night, people are suddenly sharing their deepest darkest secrets, and everything is suddenly being exposed. Bearing your soul – or as we quaintly put it ‘sharing your story’, can be a foreign concept to a lot of us. Most of us don’t generally sit down at the dinner table with friends and family and have a candid discussion about all our fears and shortcomings. Our friends and family have done a lot of our journey with us already, so no excess verbalization is really needed. And yet Forum drops you into the middle of a group of high achieving individuals, who by all appearances seem to have their lives in relative order. Into this space, you are expected to share who you are and how you came to be this way (your values). That is all well and good, but we all know that growth does not come without hardship. So you sit there, feeling a little under qualified a little inadequate and a lot out of your comfort zone – and you begin to share…

The funny thing is, once the gut wrenching fear of judgement subsides, you begin to discover that sharing your story comes with an odd, yet beautiful sense of catharsis. There is a certain safety to sharing with people who you don’t know. Everyone accepts each other without judgement. You have a chance to really portray exactly who you are. So in this zone, you begin to discover not only everyone else’s story – but your own as well. It is surprising, and undeniably pleasant… It is a little like being intoxicated.

The Hangover: – Almost immediately after group ends, and you have a spare 3 seconds to process, the hangover begins. It begins with the feeling that you have overshared. You have been asked questions no one has ever asked before, been emotionally prodded and poked, and suddenly you realise that you have revealed some of the deepest parts of who you are…. To randoms…
Congratulations! You have an official vulnerability hangover! But here is the crux of the issue – the hangover has a lot more to do with your own heightened sense of self awareness than it does with the actual sharing of your story. To verbalise is to acknowledge. There are some parts of your story that I am sure you wish weren’t there. And yet they are. When you verbalise these, and their effects, you accept they happened. You accept brokenness. You accept that, at one point, something got in under your skin, under the exterior, and shook your world. And although you are now different, and you have changed, it was because of the hardship. The reality of this spins around your head, drys your throat, and is often accompanied with slight nausea and a strong desire to stay in bed…
Thus the hangover.

The Cure: – Fear not! Hangovers are temporary, and the vulnerability hangover is no exception. For us interns – hangovers are almost a weekly occurrence. On a base level I can recommend the following –
– Junk food of choice
– A berrocca
– Perhaps a nip of actual alcohol
– A solid binge of your favorite TV series (or if like me, you are more on the nerdy spectrum, a good book).

I also recommend a sense of humor, and dare I say it, some hair of the dog.
When it all boils down, vulnerability is something that you can either run from, or step into. Only one of these options will give you something in return, and only one of these options will allow you invaluable personal growth. And many of us can testify to the fact that it is worth the recoil.
So drink up.

No Comments

Leave a comment