Brene Brown, calling me out on my reading hangover.
I don’t know if any of you caught the incredible Brene Brown Netflix special that dropped on April 19, 2019. I did. And, it wrecked me a little.
Let me start by saying, I love a good self awareness kick-in-the-teeth… You can check out my last blog on my Word of the Year, to see how I often handle it. But, I never really have enough people in my life who will call me out on the many stupid things I (repeatedly) do, so I guess I crave “Real Talk” from books. You know, the kind found in “Girl, Wash Your Face” or “I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual”. Just (not-quite-in-real-life) girlfriends who will call a spade a spade, pointing out the excuses and lies I tell myself that let me stay stuck where I am, never improving. Basically, I like my self help served up wearing ass-kicking high heels or a good blow out.
Okay. Stupidly, I assumed that meant I was ready to listen to one of my favorite non-fiction authors as she dug a little deeper into some big ideas: courage, vulnerability and leadership. I thought I would enjoy hearing her personal stories, too. Like, it would be a nice way to spend an hour on Sunday. #wrong
It was some brutal truth telling.
However, there was this one tiny moment that stood out for me. In all her rawness, there was something she flippantly said that has been digging into my brain, and shaking me up, and not letting go.
Brene was talking about the period of time right after she gave her famous TedTalk – the one on shame that has been viewed more than any other TedTalk. It was days later, after the talk had gone viral with millions and millions of views, and she allowed herself to start reading the comments that folks had been leaving online. It was a terrible idea.
They criticized her looks. Her background. Her family. Her credentials. Her looks some more.
And, in her special, she admitted that she responded by doing what any sane person would do… Brene loaded up on comfort food and lost herself in Downton Abbey. And when she’d seen every single episode, and it was over, she started Googling everything about the show, the actors, the time period… You know, that thing all true readers (and binge watchers) do to prolong their attachment to the story.
She admitted to doing this with a bit of a laugh, a definite sign of embarrassment. She alluded to that process of withdrawal right after you’ve finished consuming something great, where you’ll even read fanfiction, or start highly specific genre searches, or just try to find any other works the writer has produced. Just to stay in it. She admitted to having a story hangover.
Brene Brown had named the thing that I experience all the time: that feeling that happens when a story is over, but I’m not done with the story.
It was completely not the point of her Netflix special. It was practically the comic relief in an otherwise excellent, very authentic, discussion of some difficult truths. But, it was the part that hit me in the solar plexus… Brene Brown, without knowing it, made me feel connected and seen by an entirely new community of people: everyone who has ever needed an escape desperately, and then isn’t willing to let the story go.
And, I think, just maybe, that might be everyone reading this.
So, if you’ve ever wondered if your reading hangover is strange… If you’re wondering if you’re too attached to fictional people, or a fictional couple, or to a make believe story, I’m here to tell you: you’ve got some great company. Grab a glass of wine, fire up your google search bar, and toast to the rest of us who totally understand.
Cheers, in love and laughter,