It may have started with the Savage Lovecast, or maybe that was just the first to make my regular reads/listens list.
It’s not so much for the advice itself, though there are times when I really have appreciated it. (I’ve never gotten advice from one of these columns, but some of it applies). It’s more the stories–there is just something about real people’s struggles and narratives that is interesting and, more than that, comforting. It’s like reading PostSecret… sometimes the stories are sad, sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re appalling, sometimes they hit a bit close to home–but somehow, they make you feel less alone. They’re reminders that we’re all just messed up human beings trying to figure shit out.
But anyhow… the point of this post is that I recently discovered CaptainAwkward, and I kind of fell in love. (I found it via The Pervocracy, another amazing read.) The writer there is just a person like me who likes advice columns and decided to write one, but she’s awesome. My favorite post I’ve read over there thus far is the one I first got linked to: The Sandwich Means “I Love You”. It’s effing brilliant, and you should read the whole damn thing, but if you don’t, at least read this:
Humans are hungry. Inside us there is a shriveled, slimy, disgusting turd of a heart or a soul or a self or whatever you want to call it, and it’s just fucking hungry as hell. The only way to feed it is to love people and let yourself be loved.
The way you set boundaries around this is to accept what’s offered with grace and gratitude. You’re loved. Your friends are proving it to you all the time in small, cool ways that are not hard for them. They’ve been where you’ve been. They would not offer these things if they didn’t want to do them. Stop looking for evidence that you’re unworthy of this, and stop questioning these acts of kindness. Maybe your little turd-heart doesn’t deserve this love. Tough shit. You’re loved anyway. Deal with it. Let your friends feed you, and when you can in whatever way you can, feed them back.
As someone who has struggled with a bit of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, and as a stubbornly independent person who was raised to not show too much emotion, I sometimes have trouble accepting help or even just love from other people. I tell myself I’m overemotional, a burden, that people are doing things out of obligation and are really actually getting sick of me. This isn’t fair to the wonderful people who are my friends, who I would help with anything just because I love them. It’s really underestimating the lovely people in my life to believe that they are all actually liars who can’t really love me.
Because I believe that the people in my life are amazing, I have to believe that I am amazing too. If I don’t, I’m saying I believe that all these awesome people are keeping me around out of pity or something, which is icky and not something they would do.
Also, the type of “strength” that leads people to never let people help them, because ‘I can make it on my own damn it’… it’s way overrated. Real strength is letting yourself be vulnerable with other people, because that’s the only way to make meaningful connections. Which is really what we all live for, right? Meaningful connections with other human beings?
Anyhow, I know this post is pretty sappy, but all these lessons are things that for a variety of reasons, I’ve spent the last year learning. And CaptainAwkward just summed them up so beautifully. So I thought I’d share.
P.S. “Jerkbrain” is an amazing word and I will be using it here from now on.