Lesson 18: Sometimes Life Just Sucks (But It Won’t Forever)
This article was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend recently. Usually I like to use names (most of my friends love being name-dropped in an article), but this topic is more sensitive than usual, so I’m going to keep her anonymous.
Of course, as we women so often do, we were sending voice notes to each other about the tendencies of men. Not in a misandrist kind of way, just discussing that there are, naturally, differences in the communication styles of men compared to women.
Specifically, we were talking about how men don’t talk to each other about stuff. For example, when I have a problem, you can bet I’ve told at least seven of my best girl friends (via very detailed voice note), plus a couple of other friends who I thought would have good advice on that particular situation, and written about it in my journal.
Men (generally speaking, and of course not all of them) don’t speak to each other about their problems in the same kind of way. A quote from the Toni and Ryan podcast went viral recently, where Toni is talking about how her boyfriend hadn’t asked any details at all about his friend\’s recent break up, and that sums it up pretty well.
This also led me and my friend onto the fact that a lot of men can be solutions-focussed. Sometimes they don’t get that sometimes you want to talk about it, and that’s all. When you just want them to say “aw, that sucks, I’m sorry that happened,” and give you a cuddle, it can take them surprisingly long to take the hint that you’re not actually looking for a solution to the problem (or, at least, not right now). Men can spend a surprisingly long time saying “well, have you tried this?” when often, actually, there is a reason that I haven’t tried that and now you’re irritating me.
(Don’t worry, this is not a rant about how much men irritate me. Actually, that’s the end of that section.)
This whole conversation got me thinking about my column.
It is very solutions-focussed. In this writer-reader relationship, I’m the man always trying to come up with an irritating non-solution to your problem. (Sorry about that).
I’ve written a whole series of articles that tell you “don’t worry if you fail because you can turn it into a positive” and “this is why it’s okay to receive criticism”.
But, as much as I love to be positive, the fact remains true: sometimes it’s not okay, sometimes life just sucks, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Sometimes the only thing that’s going to make you feel better is a pint of ice cream and Love Actually (can you tell it’s getting close to Christmas?), and that’s okay too.
It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself, it’s okay to take a day or two to wallow in your sadness before you go looking for solutions. (I would recommend that you go looking for solutions eventually, but that’s just me.)
I guess this also relates back to articles I’ve written on looking after yourself when you’re sick, and making sure you treat yourself from time to time. Everything is about balance, and you don’t always have to see the silver lining.
Sometimes it’s better to validate yourself with a few kind words and take the evening off. If you force yourself to find the positive or the forward step in every scenario, you might find yourself starting to burn out.
Whether it’s a job rejection or a shitty breakup or something really small that didn\’t go your way and it was just the last straw (totally valid, by the way), you can allow yourself to be sad. If you need it (and I only say this because I need it), you can justify your down time by reminding yourself that rest today will contribute to your success tomorrow. (I know, I hate myself for that. I always need to have a “reason” to rest. But hey ho, here I am.)
Life will always come with ups and downs, and it’s cheesy but it’s true: there are no highs without the lows, and the rollercoaster can’t go up without coming down again eventually. So, be kind to yourself when it comes down, and let yourself have a bad day. When you’re ready to pick yourself back up again, maybe that’s the time to give another one of my articles a read.
But not today, on a sucky afternoon like this one. Today, just focus on yourself.