Step Away From The Book

Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. And you don’t do that by sitting around wondering about yourself.

Katharine Hepburn

Out of all the advice I can give my kids, I hope it’s this message that sticks. I’ve spent too many years “wondering about myself” and it’s exhausting, not to mention a total waste. All this investigating in self discovery has gotten me absolutely no where. The only thing I’ve succeeded in doing is adding more “labels” to my persona. I could’ve put a down payment on a small cottage with the money I’ve spent on self help books over the years. The topic range is endless; Depression, Anxiety, Stress, Mothering, Marriage, Perfectionism, Mindfulness, endless Diet books, OCD, SAD, Meditation and my personal favourite The Chakra Bible.

The thing is I can find myself in every single one of those books and poor Homer has to listen to my rambling every time I discover a new quirk of mine. You know the one that’s going to change my life? The one that’s going to give me vision, clear the clouds and I’ll finally be on my way! He nods carefully because he knows better than to roll his eyes and say, “Here we go again.”

Truly, I must be an exhausting spouse. Don’t tell him I said that.

But no matter, because whatever book I’m reading at the time there is a moment when I think; this is it. This is the answer. This is why I’m like I am according to this woman/man with a bunch of letters after their name. After I follow their instructions, I’ll be fixed and then I can start my life. When I lose this weight I can go on vacation. When I get a hold of this depression, things will start happening for me. And on and on and on. When this happens (fill in your blank), then this is how I will be rewarded, (fill in your reward). Sound familiar? If not, forget what you read and continue on to the next blog.

All I have to do is follow these steps, do this exercise, listen to this chanting, drink green tea and I’ll be cured. But cured of what? Myself? How does one get so lost that they waste years dismissing what’s right in front of them convinced there’s a better, easier way? If only wishing on a star worked. I blame Disney for making me believe this sham in the first place. None of the princesses went through any identity issues. When Cinderella was running around cleaning up after her step-bitches and living in a tower with only small animals for company, was she depressed? Nope. She just went on her merry way singing and laughing. The message? Happiness is easy. She never worked at her happiness. It just existed.

Then one day we wake up older and have a coffee table made of books we thought would open the skies to our future. And when they don’t you feel like a failure, an imposter in your own life; the life that doesn’t include a pumpkin carriage.

In the end, I always lose interest in the book of the month and don’t do the work. My fault, I know. I lose focus. Like everything else I go whole hog and then get bored and start looking for the next label to paste to my forehead. I get busy with life and then mad at myself for not following through. Cue endless negative self talk.

I’ve never been one to ask for help. I can do it myself. I don’t want anyone to know. If I ask for help I’m weak or worse, if I tell anyone they will think I’m weak. Why are we so afraid to show our shortcomings? If we only put our hands up in surrender and acknowledged our need for guidance once in a while we might have an easier time of it.

With age comes wisdom and I’ve learned the best thing I can do is talk to others. Isolating with a book (or worse the internet) only takes my mind to crazy places. Being validated by someone with the same struggles makes me feel insanely better. I guess this is why there are so many support groups and message boards out there, because people just want to belong. I want to listen and share with people I identify with so I don’t feel so alone. And it helps, but it’s not enough. Like anything else, nothing changes if nothing changes.

No one has it all together. If we did Facebook and Twitter wouldn’t be overflowing with inspirational quotes. Enjoy yourself. Tap into yourself. Let Go and Let God. Just do it. Or whatever slogan works for you but stop wondering how you work and work with what you have. Just stop wondering and start doing.

The tricky part is the doing.