Jenna Wortham is the friend we wish we all had. The New York Times technology writer and podcast host has a distinct talent for absorbing the zeitgeist of today’s tech culture and distilling it into concise, poetic paragraphs. (Case in point: this piece on the practice of sharing and stealing ideas on the internet.) Jenna’s thoughts on self-care, wellness, and how it relates to the black body are a must-read and provide a through-line for many of her other writings, thoughts, and Instagram posts.
It’s this talent and voice that grew Jenna’s following on Twitter to over half a million people (!), who all tune in for her unique insight into a mixture of technology, culture, and wellness. Plus: she’s received a personal thank you note from Beyonce, NBD. No offense Lena Dunham, but we think Jenna Wortham is the voice of our generation. Read on for our Q&A with Jenna:
GNI: What is your evening routine after you get home from work?
JW: When I get home from work, I like to take a moment to be still. Sometimes that means lighting some incense and looking out the window, or listening to music and being quiet. It’s nice to give my brain a moment to air out, to allow a rest from not thinking about anything. Just a moment to decompress from the wilderness of city life.
GNI: What does self-care mean to you?
JW: Self-care to me first means awareness, the practice of tapping into my body’s core needs, and finding ways to serve them. Sometimes that can be extra sleep, solace, or seeing friends for nourishing intimacy. Sometimes it’s a party, other times it’s holding space for my friends and the community of queer black and brown people I am always trying to foster around me.
GNI: What self-care routine has become your favorite and which are you looking to incorporate?
JW: I prioritize finding ways to treat my chronic anxiety with holistic remedies. I still take anti-anxiety medication and have a therapist whom I love and trust, but I also like to supplement that with small, daily bodily rituals that are soothing, and help me connect my spiritual form to my physical form and helps me remember my connection to the Earth, which in turns reminds me that I have an entire planet beneath my feet supporting me and holding me up. I like visiting the apothecary and selecting a new herb or essential oil and finding a way to work with it, by either making a tea or a body oil or scrub. Gentle things that make me feel restored and human are my version of self-care. Another way is dancing to a song before I leave the house for work. Visiting the ocean for a swim and a listen is also a form of care-taking to me, so now that it’s summer, I plan to do as much as I possibly can.
GNI: What woman or women are inspiring you and why?
JW: So many of my friends and peers are doing INCREDIBLE, mind-blowing work, but honestly, the answer is literally everyone woman I see who has managed not to cave into depression given the state of affairs of the world and our country. It’s an impressive feat, worth noting, and commemorating and applauding. It’s too real out here.
GNI: You’re a very successful woman in media. What would you like your legacy to be?
JW: Hm, my legacy. I’m still thinking about that term, and what it means, and if I can muster the strength for the kind of ego I’ll need to want to be remembered in a significant way. But Janet Mock named her latest (and amazing!) book after an Audre Lorde quote that reads:
“The speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, ‘If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.’ And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.’”
which summarizes how I feel when I think about an emotion or feeling that I want to be everlasting.
(You can save and share this image on Instagram)
As told to Alisha Ramos in July 2017.
Photography by Heather Sten for Girls’ Night In.