I Made It Through March, Y’all, Or Self-Help Books Out the Wazoo
Every spring, as the flowers bloom and the trees cover all of Houston’s cars with a thin layer of
disgusting yellow pollen, I go through my own rebirth… if surviving an annual existential crisis counts as rebirth.
I couldn’t absolutely swear that the two events are linked, but it’s generally around this time of year that I start questioning everything around me and how I fit into it. If you ever stumbled across one of the notebooks I’ve half-filled with dramatic and self-pitying journaling throughout my life (God forbid), I bet the first date would be March 1. This year in particular has been marked by self-reflection as my company has gone through a “Reduction in Force” (corporate-speak for laying off a fifth of the employees) and I’ve stared down the barrel of my 30s, wondering if “this” (this unextraordinary existence, this brain of maybe-wasted potential, this deteriorating body) was all I had to look forward to for the second two-thirds of my life.
I tend to handle this period by binge-reading self-help
books, crying quietly in the shower so my boyfriend doesn’t think my self-pity is in some part due to him, and talking to myself in the car. (I say this without the shame you’d probably expect from someone admitting to conversing with herself. I’m an extrovert and I have a long commute, so taking my “inside voice” outside of my own head helps me clarify things. Seriously, if you’re an extrovert and you’re going through some shit, go sit in the car by yourself and talk about it. It’s cheaper than therapy and probably at least 68% as effective, at least in my experience.)
I generally make it through this time of year with a kind of grizzled relief that I “figured things out” (i.e. accepted the fact that I’m not a special snowflake and that’s probably ok, and even if it’s not, there’s nothing I can do about it so I should really just stop thinking about), and I brace myself for summer. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of experiencing a Houston summer, it’s a period of time that reminds you that you may suck at life, but at least you don’t suck as much as Southeast-Texas in July.
A List of Self-Help Books Lindsay Aarons Chugged Through This Spring To Help Her Realize She Doesn’t Suck That Bad:
Body of Truth: Change Your Life by Changing the Way You Think about Weight and Health, by Harriet Brown
Pro-tip: listening to a book about how it’s ok to be overweight might not be the best motivation when you’re panting through incline intervals on the treadmill at 6am… it makes it much more likely you’ll just say “fuck it” and go buy a breakfast taco.
It is, however, good if you want to feel a little less alone in thinking that your body is one big blob of cellulite and should probably disappear off the face of the earth for the good of mankind (emphasis on man…let’s talk about male gaze, amiright, ladies).
Feed Me!: Writers Dish About Food, Eating, Weight, and Body Image, by Harriet Brown
I decided to follow up Harriet Brown with MOAR HARRIET BROWN, but honestly I can’t really recommend listening to this book. I think Feed Me would be better in small bites–it’s intended to create a sense of sisterhood and realization, but listening to eight hours of women talking about how they don’t feel like they deserve love if they weigh more than 130 lbs is a little depressing.
I’d recommend you maybe read one of the essays a day, and then follow it up with something a little more nourishing.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, by Jenny Lawson.
I know I’m jumping on the Lawson bandwagon a little late, but I’ve never been an early adopter. Furiously Happy isn’t technically self-help, but Lawson’s brand of putting-it-out-there is kind of just what I need. When you spend ten hours a day at work, where everyone acts all professional and has professionally-photographed images of their families in little matching outfits, and then you go home and look at Facebook, where people post pictures of their perfect meals and marathon selfies, it’s easy to forget that we’re all going through shit. Lawson really helps me remember that. Read (or listen to, in my case), this book.
Also, she lives in Texas, and I like to find cool things from Texas to point out to my family in California so maybe they’ll come visit more often… or ever.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, by Dr. Brene Brown
This book rocked my world. None of it is especially “new,” (i.e. it’s all things we’ve been told again and again), but either I was at the point of my life where it’s finally clicking, or Dr. Brown puts it better than everyone else does. The idea of doing things just because I want to, and not because I think I “should,” has changed my life.
Also, she’s from Houston and teaches at the University of Houston. Mom, is that enough to convince you that cool people live here and you should come out to see me?
So that was my March…. what did you all do?