Dear Oh Wise Genius,
I really don’t want to go home for Thanksgiving. My family is a bunch of MAGA-hat-wearing idiots. At best, they’re complicit with bigotry and oppression, and worse they post on Stormfront. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills every time I’m there. I just know I’m going to snap at some point and call them out and it’s going to make everything awkward, because if I don’t do this, I’ll lose my mind. How can I begin to get through this?
I Don't Even Like Turkey
Besides some relevant links here, and here, I want to expand this to a wider question: How do we deal with feeling like our family sucks and is full of shitty people? If you want, you can open it up even wider to the question of, “How do I reconcile having people in my life who treat me well and are important to me, but who I feel like might kind of suck inside?”
We all have family that sucks in some ways, but you can often see more generic, forgivable forms of sucktitude as being quirks that you deal with because you love them, and you’re stuck with them.
But that’s for things like, “Bradley is a real fucking pain in the ass when we’re trying to find a place to eat,” or “Aunt Ruth is really judgmental for someone I see once a year,” or “Man, Dad gets way too into sports. He does realize he’s an overweight insurance broker, and not actually Tom Brady, right?”
I think we can manage to deal with most of those to our varying degrees, so that’s not what we’re talking about. When I talk about family sucking, I’m talking about stuff like this:
“Oh Uncle Rick got fired for “inappropriate behavior” which is pretty fucking sketchy for a high school teacher.”
“My best friend Lucas sure does call his girlfriend “cunty” a lot. Like probably too much. And then he yells at us if we say something about it.”
“I love my mom, and I love playing Jenga with her, and singing Christmas Carols, and talking about home decor, but….man, she sure does talk about ‘the problems with the blacks’ a lot.”
Dealing with this stuff is complicated. On one hand, you have to think about always being there for family, because after all, you’d want them to always be there for you in these circumstances. On the other hand, you’re not planning on getting fired for ogling high school girls, so maybe Uncle Rick should piss off?
On one hand, you want to continue to support your brother, but if he’s a bordering-on-abusive shithead, maybe someone should do something about it.
On one hand, you want to be there for your parents as they get old, but on the other, maybe you’re constantly looking at them and thinking, “Oh my God, you’re the problem in the world.” And if that makes you question yourself, and your ability to constantly confront that you’re a product of these people, and that’s impacting your relationship, maybe you need to say some shit that’s going to hurt the fuck out of their feelings. Maybe. I don’t know. That depends on your priorities and we’ll get to that in a second.
The point is that this is murky, and it goes beyond your Thanksgiving. It even goes beyond family. It goes to the question of, “How do you deal with loving people who might kind of border on being awful in some ways?”
Confronting this is a brutal experience, because it attacks the very nature of our relationships. This is why people don’t want to talk about politics.
Inherent in the phrase, “Let’s not talk politics” is really the communication of the idea of, “Let’s not discuss what we really believe in, what our values are, or who we are.” It’s a demand to keep our true selves buried beneath a surface level facade. It’s to demand we prevent ourselves from the connection (or more relevantly, potential lack thereof), and the connected kindred spirits that come from shared values and worldviews.
It’s to confront this scary idea of observing those close to you, and going, “Wow, we’re actually really not the same.”
Usually in the past, this has been to small, forgivable extents in political discussion, but the nature of politics has become so polarized, and certain people in power have been such egregiously, patently horrible piles of Cheetoh-shit (not that I’m talking about anyone in particular), that it feels nearly impossible--even morally unforgivable to stick to the idea of ”respect both sides.”
It’s now easy to look at somebody who continues to support a certain side, and to think, “Oh shit, we can’t be fully connected when I find what they support to be so, so morally reprehensible.”
And when this is family or close friends you’re dealing with, it can be incredibly disillusioning, and isolating.
And frankly, this can be so rough, that the temptation is to say, “Can’t I just go back to not knowing this? Can’t we all just pretend that we’re on the same wavelength again, and like no problems exist here? Can’t I just ignore their vote to destroy the world and play Chinese checkers with them?”
And well, yes, actually. That is an option. In fact, allow me to stop rambling about how much this sucks for you, and give you some actual options for how to proceed.
But spoiler alert: they all kind of suck in their own ways.
Option 1) Pretend!
Every one of your options here is dependent on what your end goal is.
So you can pretend everything is fine, but be clear: that’s what you are doing. You are pretending to continue a normal relationship. And if you want a strong, real, grounded relationship with anyone, pretending literally never works. Actual relationships are based on real, open, kindred connection--not avoiding a majorly indicative topic while you talk about Young Sheldon and compare puppy pictures.
This is probably the option that you were leaning towards. It’s the lowest-conflict option, and as a rule of thumb, low-conflict is always our first choice in life.
And it still may be the best option, depending on your goal. If your goal is to not start a fight, to make your mom happy, and to simply survive the holidays (which is fine), then go for it.
But know what you’re giving up. You’re giving up a full, authentic relationship with everyone you’re not speaking up to. If you’re thinking, “That’s fine. I love my grandpa, but also fuck him a little bit,” good for you. Cool. I hope you have a strong support system of people elsewhere.
As for how to stay sane while doing this, while you’re there for the holidays, take plenty of “you” time, maybe meditate a little, try to steer things away from politics, eat more cheese than you normally would, play lots of video games, find random sources of joy, and accept that your family will always be these weird people you have to see a couple times a year. Take some extra steps to keep your sanity, and distract away so that you can hold onto it for dear life.
However, if you’re thinking, on some level, “But no, I need to still have a real, deep relationship with my family,” then read on.
Option 2) Salvage the Relationship
In order to do this, you have to walk into the fire. You have to *gulp* talk to people about this stuff. But keep in mind that if your goal is salvaging the relationship, you can’t talk to them in an effort to make yourself feel better. You can’t go in with the purpose of jerking off your ego and ejaculating your correctness all over your family. They won’t get anything from that.
So start off by keeping this in mind: your goal isn’t so much to convince anyone of anything at this point. That’s not the important part to the relationship. It’s to try to see where they’re coming from, still...even now...after alllll of this. It’s to dig the pile of shit that is their beliefs (from your perspective), and wipe enough shit away until you can see a decent person in there.
There is potential good to come from this, but only if it’s a discussion, and not argument. As soon as a voice is raised, or a condescending dismissal is expressed, you will find yourself just telling your dad to suck his own dick, and that’s not going to get you anywhere.
This is a risky path not only because it’s an awkward conversation, but because you may not get anywhere anyway. You may keep wiping shit away, and just find more shit. You may never see the decent person in there you were hoping for, and it can be really painful to be confronted with that over and over again.
But sometimes people have just been misinformed a whole lot. Sometimes they need to talk to somebody with a younger perspective. Sometimes they’re even a little right. And if you can find the connection to some of that, you can find some core to your relationship again.
If you want to try to find the good, it has to happen in quiet, calm rooms with no more than a couple people in them. Calmly dig into why these people are the way they are, try to persuade them, sure, but mostly try to see where in the fuck they’re coming from. Try to discover how Nana isn’t a monster who actually hates brown people, but instead just a run-of-the-mill cult member who got hooked in by the charlatan on the TV.
But again, that may not happen. You may not find that, and it’s worth being prepared for that.
So if you dig, and dig, and dig, and all you find from your family are, “If poor people die, that’s their problem,” and “Fuckin’ Muslims,” then it might be time for option 3.
3) Go Nuclear.
If you’ve fully realized that you just fucking hate these people, and can’t see a world where you can continue to be in the same family or the same room as them, then fuck it. Blow it all the fuck up.
If you can’t find any sane, non-bigoted people in your family, marry into another family. Go off on your own. Make your own way. And before you do, call everyone on their shit.
Let me be clear: This will accomplish nothing. But if your family truly sucks, you probably weren’t going to accomplish much with these assholes anyway. You might as well feel good as you’re walking out the door. Attack their character, attack who they are deep down. Rip them to shreds, and then steal their dog as you walk out the door, and bring it to a home that believes in a progressive tax code (or whatever it is you care about).
Okay, you don’t have to do all of that. But be frank. Just look them in the eye and say, “Listen, I think you’re gross because of x, y, and z.” Vent everything you want to vent. If nothing else, it will feel amazing.
It’s important to decide wisely here. You can select a little from columns A, B, and C, and that's probably the best option. You can ignore the awful shit your grandma says, have a real discussion with your parents, and tell your openly racist uncle to die in eight fires.
You decide what’s best for you on that. Choose wisely. Godspeed, my friend.
I’ve been talking to this guy for like two months, and he’s just always jerking me around. He’ll say he’s super into me, then ignore my texts for like 4 days, and say, “Sorry, busy” and leave it at that. Then he’ll go back to talking about how great I am. I don’t want to be treated like this, but here’s the annoying thing: it also keeps me more interested, which I hate. What should I do about this asshole?
There’s a reason the famous pickup artist book is so popular, and there’s a reason it’s literally called “The Game.” The guy is playing games with you, and it’s working.
The good news is that there is a very simple way for it to stop working. You just stop seeing him. Quit it. Go away. Fuck someone else. Snapchat you fucking that other person to the guy if it makes you feel better (Hint: Probably don’t do that actually.).
Think of it like this: a guy jerking you around like this isn’t the only reason you’re attracted to him, right? So you can be attracted to guys who don’t play this bullshit Tom and Jerry game with you. You can find guys you’re interested in who don’t have to pull stupid bullshit like this.
So walk away. Go find someone else who isn’t a butthole. There are plenty of non-butthole men out there.
Look the guys that do this aren’t evil, and they aren’t predators, but they’re douches because they’re phonies. They communicate someone who isn’t who they really are out into the world in the name of winning over your body. When you look at any human interaction as a game to win, you’re going to be a giant loser no matter what.
Nothing good really comes of this behavior. This interaction is bad for the women they do this to, the state of male-female relationships, and even the men themselves in the long run because they lose sight of, and therefore comfort with being who they really are.
The ego boost he gets from hooking up with you is really an ego boost to this bullshit facade he’s putting on, and he can never truly enjoy it. Sure he can get some, but on some level, he’ll be dying inside.
Basically, it’s bad for everyone involved except the guy’s dick. His dick is very happy, and is getting exactly what it wants, but as a guy with a dick, I can tell you that that’s often a terrible sign for the good of humanity.
But again, there’s only one way for this behavior to stop--you cannot reward it. I know you want to reward. I know the more he jerks you around, the more you want him.
And you know what? Tough. The fact of the matter is that guys have these methods at their disposal that tend to work sometimes for getting laid, and being their awful, awkward selves almost never works. So guess what? These methods are seen as gold in a guy’s hands. You’re not just going to get them to stop because it’s kinda douchey of them. They’ll stop when it doesn’t work.
Most guys won’t do anything genuinely horrendous to get laid. But fuck with a girl’s feelings? Get her attention with nefarious means, and then drop her to make her feel unworthy, and therefore more likely to come back to him? Hell yes. Lots of them will do that.
Sorry, having a dick does weird things to you. But if you stop rewarding it, at least you won’t have to deal with it.
I keep telling myself I’m a writer, and I have nothing to show for it. I feel like an idiot. I start projects, and then never complete them. I have ideas I get excited about for a few days and then I never finish them. What can I do to stop being such a hypocrite?
You poor thing. You’ve subscribed to the awful “Tell yourself this is true until it is,” mantra, and look what it’s doing to you.
Here’s a prime example of what is wrong with a lot of positive affirmations. You tell yourself you’re a writer so much that you get just enough of the feeling of pride that comes with being a writer to feel good about it.
This means that you don’t really have to crave the feeling that comes with actually completing the writing, because you’re already getting your fill of it.
So here’s a thought: stop that.
You have a new goal now, and it’s this: real, visceral pride based on actions. You now have a goal to actually prove to yourself who you are. You have a goal to stop being a fraud, and to be proud of it.
Look forward to the day when you can prance through the streets shouting, “I’m not a fraud! I’m not a fraud! I actually did something I’m proud of!” You won’t even care that your crush saw you and thought you were psychotic. The pride will be overpowering!
Or, conversely, consider this as another option: maybe this isn’t who you are.
That’s a scary idea. I know. Being a writer would be so cool. You’d be seen as smart and insightful, and deep, and everyone would worship you (except lol not really).
But why are you pursuing this if you don’t consistently enjoy it--if you are constantly finding ways to avoid it? If your soul is not calling you to do it, then it’s really not going to get you anything that you want. It’s not investment banking. It’s not worth forcing yourself to do because it’s going to bring you a bunch of other rewards. Writing is worth pursuing as an occupation only if it rewards your soul--if you feel more whole, or figured out, or less like stabbing a baby after you do it.
So ask yourself if it really does that, and if it’s really worth continuing.
Frankly, from an outsider’s perspective, it doesn’t seem like your soul gives a shit. Having ideas and getting briefly excited about them doesn’t make you a writer. It makes you a vaguely creative person. Having an idea, and obsessing over it until it’s perfectly communicated (to the point where your friends are like ,”Dude, calm down,”) is what makes you a writer.
Step back and consider this for a bit. Is this really who you are? Could you just vaguely flesh out ideas, stop hating yourself, and find some other shit to do that you enjoy, or at least a profession won’t leave you broke and eating Spagghetios for breakfast for the rest of your life? Could you find a new identity that isn’t based around something you don’t entirely want to do?
Think about it.
My mom is so overbearing, and I’m reaching a breaking point. I’ve been out of college for a few months now, and it’s like I’m still ten. She’s constantly checking up on me, constantly helicoptering, and I feel like I can’t say anything to her about it. It will break her heart. I feel like I want to tell her to fuck off a little, but I could never build up the nerve. What should I do?
First things first: your instinct there isn’t totally wrong. If you’re going to tell your mom to fuck off, try to be polite about it.
Secondly, it’s a good sign that you feel this way. That’s part of being a good mom, is that at times, your kids are going to want to tell you to fuck off a little.
So first of all, that may not be a bad idea. Inform her of how great she is because of how much you want her to go away. That shows she cares too much, and that’s a great problem to have.
Otherwise, here is what you do. Write down a completely uncensored, unfiltered, unrepentant, “fuck off” letter to your mom. Write down everything you can’t fucking stand about her, and how she’s constantly hovering over you, and how you don’t feel like you can properly develop as a person because of her insanity. Write it in vile, hateful, aggressive language. Word vomit everything that’s currently making you sick. Vent, vent, vent, vent, vent.
Then make like a major TV network exec and go in and censor the shit out of your letter. Phrase all of your vitriol as kindly as you possibly can. From the sounds of it, your mother has earned that from you. Give her the decency of a severely toned down fuck off letter. She doesn’t need to read the unedited version of, “Stop breathing down my fucking neck. You’re ruining my life.”
Make sure she gets your point (but you know, not THAT much) that she needs to go away for a while, and let her know that if she keeps trying to find you, that you can’t find yourself.
This letter (or simply saying out loud a version of the letter) is the start of a conversation. Have a back and forth, keep a cool head, speak your truth, but word everything as kindly as possible.
There is no conversation you should not be able to have with your parents. But phrasing, tone, and intent make all the difference in the world. You can adjust this however you want based on how you want to communicate, but a ratio of 10 “I love yous” to 1, “But go away,” is a good starting point.
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My friend has gotten way too into plastic surgery, and I don’t know what to do about it. Like she looks terrible and I feel like she desperately needs me to say something before she’s beyond repair. How do I get her to stop? What should I do?
Look, you’re right. Nothing you can say will fix anything, in all likelihood. People who are addicted to plastic surgery have problems buried deep in their brains that you’re not equipped to dig up. You’re not qualified. You don’t have the proper shovels.
Pretty much anything you could say from, “Hey why did you think that would look good?” to “Darling, you’ve gone too far with the face carving,” will in fact result in total disaster. It will lead to nothing but more and more face injections until she looks like an early human Pixar character.
Anything else that isn’t “You look perfect now that you’ve done all of that,” is a hopeless, terrible thing to say, and probably stop that.
But even that sentiment probably won’t help either, so just maybe consider shutting the hell up.
Here’s the deal. I think we all have a friend like you—the similarly aged parent to the 6-year-old us. We all have a friend that thinks they know what’s best and loves to kind shove that onto us.
And look, your intentions may be great, but that’s not what a friend’s role is and stop it.
Stop being that friend. It’s annoying, and belittling. That’s not what friends are for. A friend’s job is not to force your point of view onto her. Your job is to provide advice if she asks for it, otherwise shut the fuck up, and to be a shoulder to cry on when she’s 44 and her face melts.
Your friend is (presumably) an adult. Let her be an adult and fuck up her face. Say that one line if you feel you need to say something, and then make your peace with it. Let it go. If she asks (genuinely asks, no compliment fishing horseshit), you can be honest with her. But otherwise, sit back, chill out, and adjust mentally to the fact that you know how have a friend that looks like a terrible wax figure version of herself.
I understand you’re coming from a place of wanting to help, but there’s nothing you can do to help. You could drug your friend, drag her to a plastic surgeon, and have the surgeon put everything back the way it was.
But your friend’s head would still be fucked up about the way she looks. So love your friend, let her be, and be there for her when nobody is attracted to her because she looks like a clown that can’t move her face. That is what friends are for.
A guy recently sexted me, and I’m feeling very conflicted about it. On one hand, I felt totally offended and put off by it. On the other hand I was, you know, impressed. So here’s where I am: I’m repulsed and interested. I don’t want to encourage the behavior, but I do want to hook up with him more now. It’s really annoying. What should I do?
This is a microcosm of a conundrum some modern females have. How do I reject this shitty behavior that I’m hopelessly attracted to? How do I tell this misogynist to fuck off while getting fucked by him? How do I tell him it’s not cool to show people his unrequested dick while my mouth is around it?
Here’s what I’ll start off by saying: If you’re thinking “relationship” at all with this guy, probably don’t. I don’t have the data in front of me, but I don’t believe many marriages have begun with a girl getting an unrequested picture of a guy’s dong, and thinking “I want to put a ring on that.”
Granted, I could be wrong about that. Dick pics have only been around in their current form for like ten years. Decades ago, you had to hire a photographer, find a time for them to come over, make sure your dick looked as presentable as possible and then go to the post office and buy stamps to make sure your dick pic made it to the girl of your desires, and I think most men figured that wasn’t worth it.
So maybe we don’t have enough data yet, and I’m wrong, and you should totally pursue this guy. I’m thinking probably not though.
So assuming you want to hit it and quit it, but don’t want to encourage his behavior, where do you go from here?
I don’t think there’s a perfect compromise here, but I think I have the best solution for all involved. I don’t usually like playing games, but I think this is a rare circumstance where the brutal honesty approach isn’t particularly beneficial. After all, if you encourage the behavior, who knows how many girls will get unsolicited dick pics from this asshole because of your encouragement?
Here’s the best option, I think. You let him know that was fucked up. You push that narrative hard (stop looking for puns). You stay stern until he apologizes, and make him promise not to do that again to anyone. Make it seem like he just about lost you, but you’ll still hear him out because you’re awesome and forgiving.
You leave the door for him to talk to you just barely cracked open, and reply to one in every like five texts. Stay angry. Once he apologizes, you can maintain normal conversation. Squeeze some extra kindness out of him for a bit. Do this enough so that he thinks his kindness is the reason it finally happened when you guys bang.
If you can pull this off and he buys your act, everybody wins. You both get the sex you’re looking for, and assuming nothing serious comes of it (seriously stop looking for puns) future women get a guy who thinks treating people well gets you laid, and not sending pictures of his gross veiny dong.
I feel like I can’t talk to people. No I mean literally, I’m really bad at talking. I ramble, I stumble over my words, and I feel like every time I try, I just get a room of confused, uncomfortable faces. It makes me want to just never talk, but that doesn’t seem like a good solution. Or is it? Should I just stop talking?
This one hits home. Look, in some ways I may be a great person to give you advice on this because I’ve been there my whole life.
On the other hand, I may not be the best person to give you advice, because I’ve been there my whole life…like including now.
Here’s the good news: You’re only making one really big mistake here as far as I can tell, and it’s this: quitting.
I do the same thing. Knowing that I suck at communicating with my mouth, I’ve always subconsciously given up in even slightly uncomfortable social situations where I know that my speech won’t be as prepared or figured out, because at that point, I basically have dyslexia of the mouth.
This sometimes reaches the point where I avoid social situations entirely. If I can’t avoid them, I keep a drink in front of me and sip it to avoid conversation. Inevitably, this happens so much that I cease being a human and more so become a 6’ 3” pee machine. It’s when my social anxiety kicks in that I become the most hydrated. I’m sure you have your own way of avoidance.
Regardless, we’ve both got to stop this avoidance thing. It’s a bitch move.
Forcing ourselves to talk in these situations will often suck. You’ll have plenty of weird tangents you go on that get plenty of blank stares. Trust me. Most of my life—from communicating a basic idea at work, to telling a girl I love her—has been met with blank stares.
So I won’t sugar coat it. This will make for some totally uncomfortable, boner-in-front-of-the-class type situations. But the only way we’ll improve and get past this point in our lives is if we keep trying, keep focusing on putting our thoughts in a straight line and controlling the words as they leave our mouths. Practice won’t make perfect, but it will at least make you feel able to communicate like a normal human being, and not like a socially awkward auctioneer.
The alternative is this: We never improve, and never progress, and continue to become the least expressive mimes ever.
And that sucks, because there’s no reason we can’t improve on this. There’s no reason why we can’t become more aware and in control of our speech if we really practice. But we have to practice in reality, and we have to practice being on our feet in front of people and communicating, and we have to do this all the time. If we do this mindfully, and we focus on how we can communicate better, we’re bound to suck less at it.
If not, we’ll just be silent until we’re dead.
And then we’ll be REALLY silent. So get out there, open your mouth, and keep trying to not be so dead. You can do this, marblemouth.
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I finally found something stupid enough to send you. My cousin (freshman in high school) says “It’s lit” constantly, and I find myself wanting to throw shit at him. Like I know it sounds dumb, but I can’t help it. The phrase is like nails on a chalkboard to me, and it brings up all of these feelings of aggression in me, and I can’t seem to get it to go away. What do I do?
I mean yes, it does sound incredibly dumb. It sounds amazingly, incomprehensibly, “what the fuck is your problem?” level dumb.
But also, I totally get it.
I think plenty of people have littler verbal tics, phrases that others use, and even just faces that drive us up a wall. It often doesn’t make sense, but it is what it is. Even if Martin Shkreli was a saint, most people would still beat the shit out of him because come on.
How can you not?
For me personally, my pet peeve is any time someone says, “I’m baaaack” in that awful, sing-songy, supposed-to-be-ominous-but-really-just-insufferable way. It makes my skin crawl and makes me want to punch a baby just thinking about it.
None of this is to say that feeling this way, or acting on feeling this way is okay. Just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s cool. It sucks. It’s an incredibly dumb way to feel.
But where does acknowledging that that’s dumb get us? Nowhere. It accomplishes nothing. It certainly doesn’t change the way we feel. It doesn’t make you feel less like throwing rocks at your cousin.
In fact, this is even more of a problem because the usual solution to life’s problems (talking it out) doesn’t help here. It doesn’t matter how calm or respectful you are, asking someone to stop saying a phrase because it irritates you for no good reason makes you sound like a psychopath. It doesn’t matter how politely you say it.
“Excuse me. Pardon me. Yes, hi. Could you stop saying ‘that’s what I’m talking about?' I don’t mean to be rude, but it makes me want to bash my head through a wall.”
See? You sound like a lunatic.
So what should you do?
Sorry, this sucks. But you have one solution here: get used to it. You grin and bear it. Accept that the phrase is out there, and eventually it won’t bother you so much.
The good news is that this isn't a copout. It is an actual solution that can help you, and it works beyond your annoying cousin repeating insufferable phrases ad nauseum.
This goes for all irritating things in life. Things that are actually painful or damaging are their own problem. But anything that’s merely annoying is something you can assimilate to. You can get used to it because it’s not actually hurting you, it’s not attacking you, and it doesn’t really have any important impact on your life. Remember that it doesn’t really matter, and that it’s therefore worth accepting.
So stop internally fighting. Accept “It’s lit” into your life. Every time you hear it, say to yourself, “Yup. That’s something people say, and I can live with this.” At first you won’t believe it, but eventually you will, and eventually, you’ll feel less like murdering your family, and that’s generally a positive emotion to have.
I always compare myself to my sister and it sucks. I think maybe it’s because my parents subtly do it all the time. They won’t say like, “Your sister has an PhD. Why don’t you?” But they will kind of talk about us in the same breath, and I know that’s kind of what they’re thinking. It feels like shit, but I can’t really say anything about it, because no one is directly doing anything. But it’s gotten to the point where I feel negatively about my sister, who doesn’t do anything wrong. I think a small part of me even roots for her to fail sometimes. I’m fucked up, aren’t I?
First of all, don’t worry so much. I mean yes, you are totally fucked up, but we all have our shit. Your shit just happens to be toddler-like envy.
So after you read this, here’s the first, and most important question to ask yourself:
Are you happy with yourself? Step outside of how you think your parents see you, or even how the entire world sees you for a second, and look at your life objectively.
How close are you to getting what you want? How are you contributing to the world, and are you happy with that? How much do you enjoy the activities in which you partake?
Forget about everything else until you’ve answered these questions. Focus on this for a while and evaluate how you feel about your life.
Then give this a shot: Every time you start to feel that comparison come on—be it from a passive aggressive comment, the joy your family receives from your sister kicking ass again, or from your own stupid neuroses—do all you can to stop it in its tracks. Remind yourself immediately that that doesn’t matter. Remind yourself that your life is not a competition, and how somebody else doing (even with your same genes) is no indication of how you’re doing, and that you're kind of being a fucking idiot right now.
I know you’re not a bad person (Okay, I don’t actually know that. You could be a douche. But I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt). I know that if you strip away your insecurities, you really are happy for all that your sister has accomplished.
So try to keep in mind that her journey isn’t yours. That sounds like some insufferable Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul bullshit, but that doesn’t make it less true. How she does is irrelevant to how you do. Stop comparing yourself not just to her, but anyone.
Instead, always return to the original questions. How do you get more of what you want? How can you be happier with what you’re contributing? How can you stop looking into your neighbor’s yard and bitching about their pool?
Focus on you, what you want, what you have, and repeat mantras of gratitude, and not being a whiny little bitch.
I promise you won't be such a bitter monster, and you'll live a life of much more peace.
My grandma is a bitch. Sorry, but it’s true. She wasn’t always like this. She’s gotten pretty insufferable since her health started to get worse, and we had to put her in a home. I get that that must suck, but since then, she’s just gotten so mean. She’s been mean to everyone—the caregivers, my parents, and me. She’ll just unapologetically say really vicious things all the time, and she brings down the mood in every room she’s in, and I really hate it.
I wish I had a solution that sounded fun to you. I wish I could tell you to tell your grandma to fuck off and let her die alone, because I know that’s the fantasy you have in your head.
But I can’t.
The thing to remember here is that your grandma’s life sucks—which okay. I know you know that. But you have to constantly remember. She has to rely on other people to help her take a shit, walking is an ordeal, and if she trips on a bunched up big of her rug, she could fucking die. She misses out on life because she can’t go many places, and even when she can, she can’t see or hear half of what’s going on.
None of this excuses her behavior. And yes, she’s also behaving this way to you, because she knows you can’t leave her to die because you’re family (and to nurses because they’re paid to get yelled at by people like that). It’s totally straight up abuse.
I’m not about to say that you should stand for it…well not exactly.
You should talk to your grandma about it. You should appeal to any bit of a gentler side she has left. Something along the lines of, “Grandma I understand that what you’re going through is tough, and that I can’t fully comprehend all of the ways in which it sucks right now, but you’ve got to be less of a bitch, please,” should do the trick. Really sympathize with her as much as possible. Always seek her better angels, even when her worse ones are telling you you’ll never get a decent boyfriend with thighs like that.
See how she responds. If she responds with warmth, that’s a good start, but keep in mind that it’s just a start. You still have to follow up and ensure that she continues to be kind. If she doesn’t, make sure to keep saying, “Tisk tisk, grandma. You’re being kind of a cunt again,” (or something to that effect). Keep her honest. Keep her in line.
If her initial response is more vitriol and calling you a pussy, then walk out. Leave for a while. Make her think about herself.
Then eventually come back. If you can’t get her to stop, you can’t. But I’m sure you cutting her out of her life would bum your relevant parent out, and no matter how you slice it, it is a little fucked up of you (calling nana a cunt on the other hand? Totally cool.)
Regardless, it may be beneficial for you to move forward keeping in mind that your grandma doesn’t know shit about you, and that her words are largely meaningless. She’s just a grouchy old lady who takes her shitty life out on you. Getting insulted by her should be treated similarly to getting insulted by your dog. It’s meaningless. Maintain zero respect for it.
For some real advice that calls you on your shit and makes you feel terrible about yourself, e-mail me here.
Dear Wise One,
My girlfriend has the shittiest taste in entertainment ever. She is always pushing us to watch Food Network and Bravo reality, and listen to top 40 garbage.
I feel like I love her and want to be with her, but God damn it. I haven’t watched anything good in like a year or something. This shouldn’t be a dealbreaker, should it?
Watching Tiny House Shows
Short answer: Fuck no, what the fuck are you talking about?
Long answer: There’s a popular notion that there’s a direct correlation between taste in entertainment and compatibility in relationships.
Honestly, I don’t know where you people come up with this shit.
This comes from the idea that your tastes--in movies, music, yoga preferences--imply who you are, which they can, but they can also be essentially meaningless. People like different things for entirely different reasons, and it’s the reasons that imply who we are.
Some people watch Game of Thrones for intricate, immersive storytelling, and some people just want to see some dragons and titties.
But even your reasons don’t have to be the same as your partners. People are meant to complement each other in a relationship, not reply to every opinion or desire with a robotic, “Yes. I do share the same disposition that you stated in that sentence. Compatibility – 9 out of 10. Approved for mating.”
Sharing the same taste in entertainment with your partner is…nice. It’s fine. It can be helpful because in our world fully of lazy, mouth-breathing shittyness, we spend a lot of time watching stuff. So if you can’t enjoy any of the time you spend watching what she wants, and she can’t enjoy any of her time watching your stuff, you’ll both just get pissed off and bored, or worse—you’ll spend all of your time apart doing what you actually like to do.
And that’s not good.
But assuming you can compromise and balance it out, this isn’t that much of an issue. She isn’t less compatible with you because she likes to watch different stuff—not any more so than because she likes to cook, and you like to make voodoo dolls, or whatever you like to do.
If either of you is unwilling to compromise, then that’s the real problem, and I’m sure it shows up in other parts of your relationship. We’ve all seen this before and we all know that a relationship without compromise isn’t a relationship. It’s a weird dictatorship with one-way oral, her sitting there on her phone while he watches sports, and the loss of the human spirit.
And don’t allow that shit to continue. If she really won’t budge on this at all, and you guys are watching nothing but Chopped and wacky 90’s sitcoms, then you may want to take things into consideration.
But I’m guessing that instead of really talking to her about it, you just groan while she smiles for getting her way, and your resentment slowly builds until finally you get so desperate that you reach out to some asshole who tells dick jokes on a blog somewhere.
So start by having a real conversation with her. If she doesn’t suck, she’ll totally understand and you’ll be watching whatever HBO snobbery you were hoping for in no time, and you’ll feel like an idiot for not just having a real talk earlier.
My son is always on his phone whenever he comes to visit, and it drives me crazy. I want to rip it out of his hand, and give it back to him when he leaves, but I know I can’t do that. I don’t want to push him away, but I want him to be here. Maybe someone younger like you could help. So...help!
First of all, Mom, if this is you, you could have just texted me.
Ah yes, the old empty nester conundrum of, “My kid sucks ass, but I don’t want my kid to stop visiting, so I guess I’ll bend over backwards every way I can to accommodate them.”
Here’s your current concern: You’re afraid if you tell him to put the phone away, he’ll lash out and leave, and never return, and you’ll die alone in twenty years saying, “Where’s Peter?” (Sorry, too real?)
Here’s why some version of that is a possibility: Because you’re framing this request as a mother. You’re going to approach him like he should put his phone away because you said so—because you have the authority.
The problem is you don’t have the authority any more. That’s not a 13-year-old avoiding his homework any more, he doesn’t live there, and you can’t unplug his PS3 and send him to bed without dessert. He'll just drive to Wendy's.
But all hope isn’t lost. Because what you do still have, hopefully, is a son that isn’t a sociopath (fingers crossed!).
Assuming you have that, approach him about this problem—but not with an authoritative “Give me the phone, Peter” (or whatever his name is), but rather with the approach of, “Hey, I’d like to be able to continue having a relationship with you that involves face to face conversation. It hurts me when you ignore this to look at your phone constantly, and I’d appreciate it if you’d stop being a total nutsack.”
It sounds so corny, but speaking from the heart makes a difference. Nobody wants anyone they love to feel hurt or ignored. Approach it from this angle and…
…okay, well he still won’t put the phone away. But he will put it down every now and then, to the point where you can still have a relationship with him.
Basically, talk to him like a person who’s making your life unpleasant and not your son who you want to control. This isn’t about your motherly advice. Get out of the perspective of being a mother all together. Another person in your presence is being a dick, and it’s bumming you out. You have a right to tell them that.
This will only work by the way if this is consistently the way you interact with him. If you mother him all the time, and then try to flip the switch here, it won’t work.
And regardless of the main issue we’re talking about here, that’s probably a good idea. You can always switch back to being his mother when he really needs it, but if that continues consistently too late into his adulthood, shit gets a little Norman Batesy.
And if this doesn’t work, and your son doesn’t give a shit about this bothering you, and doesn’t put the phone down for a second…well, sorry. Your son might just be an irredeemable asshole.
Maybe push him into some rocks or something?
My boyfriend leaves our place a mess all the time. I thought when he moved in that he would adjust to my way of living (like a human being), and instead our apartment has shit all over the place like his old place always did. He also never seems to want to help with cleaning it up. What can I do?
His New Maid
Okay, let’s start by repeatedly hitting you in the head with your first mistake. You know what it is, right? Surely you must. Let’s all say it together as a class. Everybody!
DON’T EXPECT PEOPLE TO CHANGE WITHOUT AT LEAST FUCKING TALKING TO THEM ABOUT IT FIRST…YOU DIPSHIT.
Nobody changes easily unless that change is easy. And for messy people, suddenly becoming clean isn’t easy. It seems really difficult. Do you know why? Because being messy is fucking easy as shit. Anyone can be messy. Look:
How easy is that shit? I didn’t have to do anything. Being clean involves doing like 20 more things than this.
Okay, now back to you. First things first.
Accept the blame. This is your fault for expecting life to fall into place instead of putting it in place. This is your fault for not really talking to the dude.
And it will continue to be your fault until you do. Let him know that having things tidy is a priority for you—that part of your daily happiness relies on it. Make him feel that this is true. Don’t yell at him, and don’t blame him. Just make him realize how important this is to you.
That’s it. That’s all you’re doing here.
If you do that, and he’s still consistently leaving his burger wrappers and condom balloon animals all over the house, then fuck him. This has nothing to do with being messy. It has to do with not making what is important to you important to him. This isn’t a guy thing. This is a relationship thing. He has a responsibility to make your concerns his concerns and vise versa.
So unless you actually don’t care this much and you’re just mildly irritated that life didn’t change for you, make this a little ultimatum. Make it clear you care about this, and make it a test to see whether or not that causes him to give a shit.
If he doesn’t, throw his shit out the window. Then your place will look tidy as fuck.
To seek my wisdom, shoot me an e-mail here, and then share it with the world, so that I can embarrass you here in front of all of your friends.
Dear Mr. Wonderful,
My mom keeps making passive aggressive jabs at me because I'm a theater major and she wanted me to study something more "practical." There is a lot of, "Well if you had gone pre-law..." only then to back off and say that she supports my decision. It's driving me up a wall. What should I do?
Dear Future Unemployment Recipient,
Ugh. Sorry. Seriously, I know you can't hate her because she's your mom, but I hope it helps you to know that I hate her a little on behalf of you, because that sucks.
I don't mean that it sucks that your mom disapproves of your decision. I mean sure, that's unfortunate, but she's allowed to have her opinion. Plus for you, that's nothing a spine can't fix.
The passive aggression is what sucks. Passive aggression is one of the shittiest, most awful, most infuriating behaviors a person can take part in. It's pure fucking evil.
Real aggression is explosive and scary, but it at least gets everything out there, and allows everyone involved to rebuild from the rubble. Passive aggression is death by 1,000 stupid paper cuts--only without the death. Nothing gets out in the open or solved. You just kind of bleed and hurt a lot, and then you bleed and hurt more.
Passive aggression is, ultimately, "Hey let's make everyone feel bad while solving nothing! Yeah!"
The real bitch of the problem is this: You probably want to scream at your mom right now. She has revved up so much aggression within you, that if she makes a few more comments and pushes you over the edge, you probably will scream at her.
This sucks because her comments, on their own, seem innocuous. They're just singular paper cuts, so if you respond to one of them with a good ol', "MOM SHUT THE FUCK UP," you'll be the one to look like a crazy person.
So as much as this may suck, your only option is to get it out in the open. In other words, fight the passive aggression with some direct, open, calm aggression. Don't yell, or tell your mom to eat a dick, as much as you may want to.
Instead, ask your mom about her problems with what you're doing and respect her thoughts. It doesn't mean you have to change majors. It just means that she has to be heard, and you can hope that once she is, she can then shut the fuck up a little.
Tell her that you respect her opinion, and then say, "But Mom, you're also being a tool bag."
And after that, you have to get her to agree to stop with the comments. Make her understand that that won't change anything. She's just selfishly taking jabs at you to make herself feel better, at the cost of her relationship with you.
That last part is the trump card all kids have, but you should use it judiciously. When you abuse it, you're abusing your parents. When they actually are actually acting poorly and damaging their relationship with you, however, it's justified. Play it, and she'll fold in a fucking hurry.
And then, every time after that that she makes a comment, you have to call her out immediately--fucking immediately. I don't care if others are there, I don't care if she's otherwise been nice that day, and I don't care if a nuclear bomb is about to land and she's saying, "You know an attorney might know what to do here."
Don't let her off the hook. Notify her when she's doing it every single time. Irritate her. Get her out of the habit.
My friend has changed a lot since she got together with her boyfriend. Obviously we hang out less, but she also doesn't want to do any of the same stuff, or watch any of the same shows. I feel like I'm losing her. Help!
Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat: Your friend is allowed to change, and as long as she's happy, tough shit for you. Deal with it. Find other people, watch My 600-Pound Life by yourself, make friends with an online chatbot. I don't know--whatever works for you. But if she's not somebody you want to be around any more, that's kind of your issue to deal with.
Otherwise, this is likely just as simple as it seems. The answer is the same one that solves most of these problems:
Talking, talking, talking.
It's nearly always the answer. It may seem like it's not sometimes, but that's because people don't talk in the correct ways. They think talking is blurting out, "You don't appreciate me!" and storming out in the middle of Finding Dory.
So yes, definitely talk to your friend about this for sure, but be sure to do so in the right way.
Don't go on the offensive. This isn't really about her changing. This is about your relationship and what you two can do together to rectify it. Make it not about concern because she's taking some D instead of watching Food Network with you, but about your love for her, and how you miss her.
When you get good at factoring in somebody else's sensitivities, you can talk to them about anything. You can call them a dumbass, or an asshole, or casually accuse them of molesting your dog--as long as you word it correctly.
The key is in allowing them to see your discomfort with how things happened to have gone, instead of trying to make them think they've wronged you in some way.
So yes, speak with her, and do so as frankly as possible. But do so with her sensitivities in mind, with her concerns at the forefront. When you're the one with the problem, you have to play the game on her turf.
Chances are that a part of her knows that's she's gotten totally lame, and feels guilty. If you approach her with love, she'll listen to you (unless she actually sucks, in which case, she's worth losing.)
If you approach her with accusation, she'll just avoid the conversation and talk shit behind your back, and things will weirdly peter out between you two over the next couple of years, until one day, you realize that you find her to be a total bag of twats.
It doesn't have to be like that. Talk, talk, talk.
Dear Oh Wise One,
I kind of can't stand my sister-in-law. She doesn't attack me personally per se, but I find the way she views the world and people in it to be reprehensible. I feel like half of the stuff that comes out of her mouth reveals her to be a total monster, and nobody ever calls her out on it! It hasn't been an issue so far, but what can I do to make sure that it continues to not be one?
Dear Bleeding Heart Asshole,
I mean you could speak calmly and try to persuade her if you think she'd respond to that, but going off of your description, I'm guessing she wouldn't.
I'd say you already have the answer to your question. You said it hasn't been an issue so far. So if you don't want to create an issue, uh, fuckin' don't?
But that's not really what your question is, is it? What you really want is permission to lash out at her for being awful. Sound about right?
Well tough. You're not getting it here.
Think about this. Do you have any expectation of changing who she is? I'm going to guess not, if she's actually just a shit person at her core. Sometimes we can change people for sure, but generally assholes are assholes. Talking to them isn't going to make them stop excreting poo.
But you know this, and you know that deep down, you have no expectation of changing her. This isn't about that. This is about you calling her out and feeling like a hero. This is about you feeling great about yourself because she sucks so much and you can put her in her place, drop a mic, and walk out and have everyone applaud you, right?
When you put it like that, you kind of come across as a needy asshole, don't you? Well sorry, but that's reality. This is--entirely--about making yourself feel better.
And you're not even really doing that. Once you start laying into her about what a shitbag she is, you'll feel it get awkward really quickly in the room, and you'll immediately regret starting your rant. You'll notice that no standing ovation is coming, and that's a painful departure from the image in your head. You'll realize you would have made things less awkward by farting and shouting "whoopsy doodle!" in her grandma's face.
And the fallout of all of this? You'll make your significant other feel like shit. You'll make things weird, and put him or her between a rock and a hard place, all so that you can theoretically--but not actually--feel better.
So the other question you might have here is, "How do I feel better about her shittiness?" The answer is you accept that you're not going to feel better.
People being awful should bother you. Good on you! But guess what? You're going to feel awful sometimes. You're going to be annoyed. It's a part of life. Keep feeling those feelings. It's your way of checking your soul's pulse. Accept that this feeling is good, even if it feels like garbage
If you'd like to have your dumb decisions thrown back in your face and receive some sage wisdom from me, e-mail Will@BeBetterStupid.com, and I'll air all of your dirty laundry out on this blog (without saying your name of course).
And we're back with more sage wisdom. This week, we have a dog-hater, a victim of cheapness, and a dude losing his beer, and they all have one thing in common: they don't know how to talk to people.
Let's get to it.
Dear Mr. Brilliant,
I hate my girlfriend's dog. I'm not an anti-dog person, but I've never really loved them. She says this dog is "her little angel" except it also fucking bites me all the time, and growls when I sit next to her. How can I fix this without pissing her off?
Jack Russel Victim
Dear Soulless Weirdo,
First of all, if you've never loved dogs, check yourself into a mental hospital. I can't help you.
Okay sorry. I know that doesn't help. I just had to say it, because seriously, dogs are beacons of joy, and love, and all things good and you are hollow inside, and you should hate yourself.
Okay sorry again. I'll try to assume you're a decent human being now.
Look, okay. As someone who doesn't love dogs, you probably don't understand the connection people have to them, as it sounds like your girlfriend has. That's okay, but it's worth recognizing--not because you should sit there and take the abuse, but because it informs you about how you can talk to her about it.
And yes, you do need to talk to her about it. This is how you avoid that unfortunate episode where your frustration boils up until you find yourself grabbing the dog by the ears and yelling, "I hate you you fucking bitch!" only to have your girlfriend's mom walk in and assume you're actually psychotic forever and ever.
If you care about your girlfriend, you can swallow your desire to drown the little fucker and consider the talking route instead. Here's how:
First off, mix the truth with some comforting lies. Talk about the dog on your girlfriend's level. Talk about how you love it, and you understand how she does, but then calmly bring up the idea of obedience training. If you have the means, maybe even offer to help pay for it.
Look at other solutions as well. Does the dog get enough exercise? Is there anything in your behavior that's causing you to unintentionally rile up the dog? Is the dog sensing that you're a heartless sociopath hellbent on not enjoying the greatest creatures alive?
These are all Googleable things, so it may be worth doing some light research.
If all of this sounds too strenuous for you, you may just not actually give a shit about your girlfriend, and would be best off breaking it off.
My boyfriend is cheap. Like I don't want to be ungrateful or anything, and I'm not the most materialistic person, but from dinners to gifts to like, everything, he just seems like he doesn't want to spend anything on me. It's not a patriarchal thing because I spend on him. And he does have money too. So I don't know. It just feels shitty. Am I an asshole for thinking like this?
Yes, I probably am.
Dear Gold Digger (Relax, I'm kidding),
If he has money, then no, you're not an asshole. If he actually doesn't have much money and you're like "but come on, you have some money," then you're still only kind of an asshole.
I'm guessing what you're really thinking is that it feels like he's unwilling to sacrifice for you, and that bothers you. In a way, it makes you feel less valued by him, and even though it's really dumb, we all want to feel valued (because, we're a bunch of insecure children who need outside validation GOD I HATE US.)
As is pretty much always the case, the solution here is talking carefully with him about it. I'm sure he has his reasons for being like this, and those are worth taking into consideration before you talk to him. But just because that's the way he is doesn't mean that's the way he has to be. He can be more considerate and get better just like I'm sure you can probably get better in about fifty ways.
So first of all, figure out how you feel. I posited a guess up there (about you not feeling valued), but it's just a guess. I don't live inside of your brain.
Figure out exactly what it is about his cheapness that bothers you, before you express your problems to him. If not, you'll just end up doing what we all do when we're angry about something uncomfortable--you'll redirect your anger.
Next thing you know, you'll end up screaming at him for the way he doesn't use the rough side of the sponge to scrub dishes, and then a back and forth will ensue, and you'll end up calling him a "cheap penishole" in a yelling match, and really, what is that going to accomplish?
It's also important to look at it within the context of the whole relationship. If the problem is that you feel undervalued, does this go beyond his cheapness? Does he generally not treat you like you matter very much? I don't know the answer, but you need to, because if it's part of an over all problem, you have some bigger shit to address.
And let me reiterate that you need to speak with him carefully. Dudes get butthurt just as much if not more so that ladies. If you don't believe me, set up a scenario where you see another man's penis (like in a movie or by Googling Chris Brown), and just say, "Wow," and see what happens.
Point being, we're also sensitive little butterflies who redirect our anger constantly, and that's worth taking into consideration.
So don't use words like "cheap" or "stingy." Also do NOT talk about how he "doesn't appreciate you enough" like it's an objective fact.
Instead, say that you sometimes feel unappreciated. Communicate what you're struggling with, but try to avoid sobbing and groveling. That will make him feel bad and change his behavior for like four seconds.
Real, calm, rational communication is the way to go. Convince him of why you feel this way instead of whining, and if he's worth having around, he will listen and make an effort to change.
My roommate keeps drinking my beer. I don't want to make things weird, but this shit is annoying. What should I do?
Beerless in Dallas
Oh what a dilemma! The awkward situations! The thievery! What is one to do?
Look I've been through this before, and in my bouts of anxiety, I've thought out many possibilities for this scenario.
1. Writing and performing a Broadway-style song to ask him to please stop.
2. Wait until you catch him doing it, and stare at him like he killed your child until he says something.
3. In the ultimate move of passive aggression, take pictures of your beers in his room, and draw question marks all over it (only to then of course act like nothing is wrong when he sees you next).
4. Wait until he is within sight of the kitchen. Then make a visual point to storm over to the fridge (do it dramatically enough to make him look), and then stare him in the eyes as you lick right around the bottle cap of every bottle you have in there. If you have cans, even better.
5. Start to take his shit without asking. You can start eating his strawberries, and using his silverware. If he's not getting the message, you can just very plainly wear his old high school t-shirt with his name on it, and then deny you're doing it to his face.
6. Failing all of this, you can peel off the initial layer of awkwardness and have an adult conversation with him about it. I know, I know. The horror.
This is your only real option, and it's worth doing regardless of the results because really, you should get used to having awkward conversations. It's part of being a grownup (in my experience, it's most of being a grownup).
If you'd like to receive some of my sage wisdom, shoot me an e-mail at Will@BeBetterStupid.com.
And we're back with another round of condescending advice for the people who need it most: the people desperate enough to read my advice column.
This time, we have a serial planner, a disillusioned friend, and a chronic procrastinator. Let's get to it.
1. Dear Crabby,
Every time I make a plan--whether it's to write a song or to start eating healthier, I never seem to follow through with it. I get really hyped up on what I'm going to do, and then I do nothing. It's so fucking annoying. What can I do to be better about this?
Frustrated and Self Loathing
I assume you want some kind of answer besides, "Well follow through with it then, dumbass," so I'll try to oblige.
There's a lot that can go wrong between the declaration of a plan and the execution. In fact, if we're not literally forced to execute our plan (like, if avoiding it won't lead to either us getting fired or our dog dying), we very rarely do execute it, because well, it's easy. And easy is fun. Easy motivates us more than anything. We are easy's bitch.
There's one thing to watch out for here that many people miss: making a plan makes you feel good. I know it does for me. Declaring that you're going to do something awesome feels awesome. It feels like you're already doing it. You get excited, and envision your future, and because that gives you so many good feelings, sometimes, that feels like enough. It's enough to lay out a plan and to go, "I finally did something!"
But uh, hey there pal. You didn't do anything. You didn't work on your music, or start your own business, or start swimming laps. You just scribbled down, "I will start my business in a month!" on the back of a discarded envelope. What do you want? A trophy?
You're just as much of a loser as you were five minutes ago before you made the declaration, and figured out four of the 8,000 logistics that need to be figured out. Don't let yourself off the hook with this satisfaction that you stated an intention to do something.
"I will end world hunger. Wow that feels great!"
Oh look, another child just keeled over from malnutrition. Guess that didn't do anything, did it?
Accomplishing things makes you feel great, as it should. But if you feel great without accomplishing anything, that all but guarantees that you will do nothing.
So do not allow yourself to feel even a modicum of joy for making the plan. Don't allow yourself to get excited, and sure as hell avoid even a little bit of pride. Maybe even look at some recent pictures of starving children to remind yourself, "Oh yeah, there's still actual work to do."
Now, there are other possible problems here. You might leave your plan in a drawer, or in a hard to see file on your desktop, and it could make it easy to forget about. It's important to make your plan visible, and in your face at all times. Don't let yourself ignore the plan.
That could be the problem, or you could also just really like porn and Cheetos more than doing anything productive, and that could be ruling your decision-making.
With all of these, it's simply a matter of making a choice to do something, and then fucking doing it. So if those are the real problems you have, then sorry, this one really does boil down to "Well then follow through with it, dumbass."
2. Dear Mr. Wisdom,
Ever since the election, I can't seem to look at some of my close friends and family the same way. I know that they're still the same people, and I know that they had their reasons for doing what they did, but man, I don't know. I feel like I just discovered like, "Oh my mom would have gone along with the Nazis." Is there a way to...I don't know, humanize them again? Maybe that's not the right word.
Look, you're not alone. This was a...unique election, and a lot of people feel the same way you do.
Here's an important first part of that answer: a lot of your perceptions of people are already drastically wrong. This is true with friends, family, significant others, everyone. We're lucky to understand even half of who a person really is. There's a lot of complexities and a lot of layers to even the biggest shit-for-brains, and you're going to feel disillusioned a lot in life if you continue to expect people to always be predictable.
People do change constantly, even if they seem like they don't. They are always changing in ways that you, and they, don't realize.
So with all of this in mind, it's okay to not look at people the same way that you looked at them before--especially your parents. When you think about it, this has already happened.
Remember when you thought your parents had all the answers about life? HA! Hilarious!
It took a couple decades at least for you to slowly realize that, "Oh these are just two people that fucked, created me, and then feigned any semblance of certainty throughout my life so that I wouldn't see the world for the unknowable shitstorm that it is and freak out."
The election was likely more jarring than this because the change in perception feels like it happened overnight. It's like if the next time you saw your mom, she had a beard and now went by "Frank," and decided to join the circus. You're like, "Okay I'm supportive, but this might take some getting used to."
But you know what won't make you feel better about all of this? Sitting, stewing, and judging. Stewing in general has never accomplished anything (unless, I guess, you're making a stew), and if you continue, neither will you.
So at some point, it may help to speak with them. Don't yell at them, don't name call, no matter how much of a "fascist-loving dipshit" you think they are. That won't help. But talk to them.
You don't have to agree with where they're coming from, or think it's at all justified.
In order for your relationship to continue on, you just have to see how a decent person could come to the conclusions they did. That's it. If the people in your life were decent before, they likely are now as well, and you will be able to see that, even if you also think they're going to be a horrendously wrong side of history.
3. Dear God Please Help,
I always procrastinate in the mornings, and it kills my productivity for the rest of the day. Sometimes I'll get on track later, but by then, I'm too far behind to make a dent in anything I want to do. Help!
I'll Get to It After Lunch
Man, I'm really tempted again to keep it simple with a nice, "FUCKING STOP DOING THAT GOD" approach, but I'll try to get more in depth.
Momentum is so incredibly important--as you've found out. When you start slow, it's nearly impossible to not finish slow too. Getting going is a painful slog every day, and the more you sit still, the more you'd rather be moved by a random tsunami than by your own muscles.
So what do we do about that? How do we avoid the problem of manufacturing momentum? How do we...enjoy moving more?
We don't. Sorry. Sucks, I know. But there is a way to make your day in general less terrible, and to get over the momentum problem more quickly.
It starts as soon as you wake up.
I know, I know. "What? So now I'm even waking up incorrectly?"
Yes, you are. You really can't do anything right, can you?
Think of a scenario for me.
Think of times when you've had a 7:00 a.m. flight the next day, and you didn't get to sleep until 1:30 the night before because you didn't start packing until midnight (you know, because you're a procrastinating asshole.)
And then you have to get up at 5:00 the next morning to get to the airport, and you're freaking out about how little sleep you'll get.
But then, amazingly enough, waking up is...actually not that bad, right? That's what often happens here. You wake up surprisingly easy, you get up, and you go.
You do this, because you know you have to. Your body is like, "Alright, we got to fucking get to airport in 20, because who knows how long TSA will be examining my butthole this time."
We feel like waking up is hard sometimes, but it's only because we allow it to be hard. We allow it impact us as much as it does. And when we get up slowly, that starts our day off with very slow momentum. This puts us in a frame of mind that allows us to do other "slow" activities, and that leads to us procrastinating.
Instead, we have to get up and go every day. I don't care if you were awoken from an alarm and you were in the middle of a dream where you were fucking your middle school algebra teacher in the vagina which was weird because he was a guy, and you were in an airplane over what you imagined to be Madagascar and your neighbor was there, but she looked more like Margaret Thatcher.
I don't care how groggy, and out of sorts you feel. Lie to yourself. Act as if you're wide awake, and your stupid, gullible body will start to believe you.
Give yourself a jolt of energy, open your eyes wide, and immediately start doing productive things. They can be dumb things at first like brushing your teeth, or checking work e-mails. But get started with productivity immediately. Get yourself on a roll as soon as you possibly can.
You can't avoid the 0-60 slog of going from nothing to excelling. You can only do it sooner, and get a little better at it.
To get your very own advice, send me an e-mail at Will@BeBetterStupid.com. It comes with the BBS guarantee: Your life will get better, and you'll feel terrible about yourself.
Welcome to my advice column! Here, you can read questions asked by anonymous readers towards me, and then read along as I insult them, and then show them how to be less terrible.
This week, for February, I'll be focusing on reader questions about love and relationships (Since I didn't receive a lot of Black History Month questions).
(P.S. In no way am I adding in names at the beginning and end of each question. How dare you even imply that.)
1. Dear Genius,
I can't seem to get over my ex. It's been almost a year, and I'm dating other guys now, and I even like one of them a lot, but the ex is still in the back of my mind. How can I finally move on?
Desperate and Sad
It largely depends on your situation, but assuming it's not a "we're on a break" type thing, this one is actually pretty simple: You need to live in the reality where you and him getting back together is absolutely impossible.
"Okay but what if it is--" NO SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP. STOP IT.
It's 100% over. Say it, repeat it, get used to it. Accept that this is true, and that you have to adjust your life to being without this person.
This is exactly why people remain hung up on exes. A part of them still sees themselves with them. A part of them, on some level, still envisions their future together and holds out hope that one day things will go back to the way they were.
It's like people who hold onto their dreams for way too long, only it's even more ridiculous. Your dreams often are theoretically always attainable. After all, your dream is a concept full of achievable goals.
Your ex, on the other hand, is a human being able to permanently say, "Go away, weirdo" no matter what you do.
So tell every inkling inside of you who still thinks this is a possibility to fuck right off. It's over. Do whatever you need to do in order to get that idea into your head--to step outside of the idea that you two could ever get back together.
Tell yourself he moved to an island with no Wi-Fi in the South Pacific. Tell yourself he cheated on you fifty-eight times, or is the reason your childhood cat died. Tell yourself he got run over by a train last week. Mourn him. Picture his casket being lowered into the ground. Call and give his confused mother your heartfelt condolences. Do what you need to do to convince yourself it is over forever.
Does this mean you need to unfollow him on any and all social media?
OF FUCKING COURSE HOLY SHIT. I mean if you don't do that, it will fuck up your perception of everything. How can a dead person post on Instagram?
You may need to unfollow mutual friends for the time being just to reduce any chance that you might ever see him. Do whatever you need to do to get the fuck over it. Your life cannot continue until you do.
At the risk of completely contradicting myself here, the cool thing about this approach is that it doesn't really prevent you guys from potentially getting back together. If he returns and begs you to come back some day, you can flip back to your previous thought patterns pretty easily. After all, you know he didn't actually kill your cat, and maybe getting back with him, should the opportunity present itself, would be the best option (or maybe not. Depends entirely on your situation.)
But for now, take that notion and drop kick it out of your life as far as you can. For now, that bastard is Hitler meets Bin Laden meets Nancy Grace. Also look at his face. Isn't it actually really gross when you think about it?
You're lying to yourself right now in thinking that this could still happen. You're lying to yourself when you envision your life together. The only honesty you have in your life is your friends telling you, "You should really move on," and you're not listening to it.
So instead, switch the lie you're telling yourself to something productive. Tell yourself that getting back together is literally impossible. Attack insanity with insanity. Do what you need to do to move on.
Find someone who died who shares his name and leave some flowers at their grave. He's dead, and you still being into him is borderline necrophilia.
Let. It. Go.
2. Dear Oh Great One,
I'm dreading not having a date for Valentine's Day. There's a guy who has always been clearly interested in me. I've never been into him, but I'm thinking of seeing what he's up to just so that I'm with someone. Is this too desperate?
Duh, Of Course It Is
Dear Dumb Lady,
Actually, "desperate" may not be the best word to use, but it's still not...I'll say "ideal."
First, it may be worth looking at why you're "dreading" not having a date for this silly holiday. I know, I know. "I'm a guy. I wouldn't understand."
But maybe it's time to ask yourself: Do you even really understand?
Self-examine a little here and see if you can't figure this out. Really think about why you care so much, and what it will really bring you to be with someone you're not really that into on this day.
If you go out with him, and you're overwhelmed by how uninteresting/unattractive/mouth-breathy he is the whole time, will that really make you feel better than just hanging out with some friends, or even by yourself?
Ask yourself this. I'm not sure of the answer because I'm not sure about every last detail about your relationship with this guy, so let's run through those scenarios.
If you really don't like him--like if you're really put off by him and/or know him well enough to think he's a bad person, and/or he gives you a real Norman Bates vibe, then:
1) Seriously fuck no. Don't ever go out with him. Are you kidding me?
2) Holy shit, look at what you're considering doing so that you can desperately (Huh. I guess it was the right word) try to fit in, or pretend to have something you don't on some dumb holiday.
Reevaluate your priorities, and then maybe every other part of your life that has ever existed. Jesus Christ.
If, on the other hand, you've always just kind of brushed him off because, "Ehh," maybe consider giving him a chance--not because Hallmark is telling you to, but because if he really likes you, that's at least one important part of a relationship taken care of right there, and maybe he's got some cool shit beneath the surface. Maybe you could develop an attraction to him.
Or maybe not. Again, you know your feelings and more about him than I do. But if your current plan is to lead on some perfectly nice guy who likes you, just so you can feel better about a holiday, maybe don't.
Maybe instead spend Valentine's Day with some single friends, and Valentine's night your current boyfriend. He doesn't ever reject you. He'll just hums a lot, and requires an occasional battery change.
Dear Beacon of Wisdom,
I like the girl I'm seeing a lot. Like every time we hang out, she's really chill and we have a great time. But she won't answer my texts for days at a time, and it drives me crazy. I know she's probably just playing 'hard to get' but I hate how well it works! Help!
A Frustrated Masochist
Dear Dumb Dumb,
Oof. This one is tricky, and I think we've all been there. I know the exact fear. You want to be straight up, and simply ask her if she can be a little bit more prompt in answering you, because you're an honest person who wants to avoid games, feel valued, and get on with your life.
But as soon as you say that, no matter how you word it, you're going to appear to be a level five clinger, and she'll have reason to run away. Sound about right?
I want to reassure you that these are not irrational fears that you have. A lot of people do react this way to people who try to remain more connected than them, because well, there isn't yet a convenient app for restraining orders, so clingers can present quite a problem.
So yeah, you're on a tightrope here.
Personally, I've always been on "Team Say Exactly What You Mean, and If They Back Away, Fuck 'Em" (we're working on a shorter title), but I understand not everyone wants that.
As I see it, the best solution is to try to get on her level as much as you can. Right now, it would appear you're more serious about things than she is (although she could just be genuinely busy), so you've got to back off just a little.
By this, I do not mean saying, "Fuck that bitch" and jerking off to some porn star who looks like her while crying. I'm not saying to lose her completely.
But continuing to date other people, engrossing yourself more in work and friends, playing laser tag, whatever--all of these are good ideas.
Do what you need to do to keep yourself occupied more, and fill up your life with more awesome stuff so that she doesn't stand out as quite such a sore thumb of wonder and sex fantasies for you.
Then when you text her, make them really good texts. Make them funny, and as specifically relevant to her as possible. Don't get so desperate you try some pickup artist bullshit. Just be yourself in a way that you know she has liked so far.
If she likes you, you will eventually rope her into a back and forth, and that's when you get can get her to go out with you again, and then you can take her home, put on some music, and lock her in your closet, and say, "There! This way you can always respond to me!"
(Or you know, have sex. Whatever your main goal here is.)
If you're in need of advice, and like getting ripped on for your stupid thoughts and life choices, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail, and you'll almost definitely end up in a future column: Will@BeBetterStupid.com.