There are moments in life that define us. Moments of transition that take us to new heights, new dreams, new destinies. In these watershed moments, we know, deep in our souls, that we are becoming who we were always meant to be.
And those moments are great. But what the gods of inspiration don’t tell you is this:
That shit only happens in the movies.
I’m reading a book right now for book club. I won’t name it here. I’ll just say that I’m already judging it. I was judging it before I even picked it up. The nature of this book is quasi-self-help with a dash of inspirationalism and some cliché, white-girl humor sprinkled on top for good measure.
Part of me finds books like this relevant to the overworked, underappreciated females that I know. That I am. But another, more dominating part of me, finds them exhausting.
The premise of these types of books is to basically tell you that you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it people like you. You just have to believe in yourself, yadda, yadda, yadda. Learn to say “no” to things that don’t benefit you, yadda, yadda, yadda. Drink more water, yadda, yadda, yadda. Follow your bliss, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Look, all of this is true. But I’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of dollars trying to figure out who I really am, how I turned into a neurotic bag of anxiety, and what to do to fix my broken parts. And I think, somewhere in my journey, I developed a low tolerance for one-size-fits-all-buy-my-book-so-I-can-become-a-celebrity-and-develop-a-brand-that-will-sell-you-cute-bumper-stickers-to-put-on-your-minivan advice givers.
There is no magic formula.
There is no one right answer.
We’re all just doing the best we fucking can.
What works for you, may not work for me. Yes, there are universal truths that can apply to how one becomes a better version of themselves. But sometimes, sometimes I just want to scream when I read advice that is tied up in a Pinterest-esque package and sold to me as wholesome, good-for-the-soul literature.
I realize this all sounds harsh. And I don’t make it a habit of being harsh on other writers very often. Especially if their intentions were probably good.
But I did say I was judging it. So I’m not going to apologize.
Instead, I’m going to give you the quick version of what I have finally taken away from my life experience, at 36 years old, hundreds of dollars unnecessarily poorer from the purchase of books like the one I just mentioned…
Are you ready? Here’s what you need to know:
Love yourself. As you are.
See, I didn’t even charge you to read that little nugget of truth.
I’m not going to write a book about it and sell it.
I’m not going to go on a speaking tour and sell it.
I’m going to live it.
We make our lives so damn complicated with expectations. Social media has ruined us and deceived us and continues to feed the notion that we aren’t somebody, we aren’t “worthy” unless our lives appear to be perfect.
People, I’m going to take an opportunity here to break something to you: Nobody’s life has been a bed of roses.
Even the queens who write bullshit books about how to get your life together. They have struggled, I’m sure.
The author of our book may get to that. In fact, I’m sure she will. In her own way. In her own time. I may have judged this whole book too early. Everybody writes to “their” audience. I am not her audience. This genre doesn’t excite me. It doesn’t feel “real” to me. It feels like the same thing I’ve read before, just between a different book jacket. And I’m at an age where I really just don’t need anyone else telling me what I need to do, because, at the end of the day……
the only person that I ever listen to
That’s true for most of us. But we read other people’s advice because it’s so much easier than dealing with our own selves and the hoarded emotions and issues that we leave unresolved while we try the newest fad to fix our broken parts.
And it keeps us from being accountable to ourselves. Because we were just following someone else’s plan.
The author of this book does talk about personal accountability, so I’ll give her that. And I’m sure there are a lot of other truths buried in this month’s selection that I’ll appreciate. But overall, you understand, I just don’t care for the genre of “girlfriend self-help”. Because the very implication is that we should want what other people have and be dissatisfied with ourselves until we reach society’s version of success.
I don’t begrudge the women who have their lives together. Women who have surmounted their personal obstacles and really do live Instagram-worthy lives that are interesting and fulfilled and lacking in cellulite and fights with their spouses and worries over whether their kids will end up in bad relationships or on meth.
I don’t begrudge the ones who actually HAVE pulled themselves up by their own designer bootstraps and made a brand out of telling the rest of us the shit we already know and really don’t need another white girl telling us.
I don’t begrudge their success and I don’t begrudge their attempts to
profit from help others.
I just don’t really want to read their books.