The danger of making it look easy

I don’t have a self-care budget, but I’ve definitely blown through it this month. Lately I will pay for anything that might help me get to the bottom of What Is Wrong With Me and How to Fix It. Sometimes that looks like signing up for rituals and courses involving self-reflection and intention-setting, others it means committing my New Year’s Day to a retreat where I’ll load up on sparkling water and Trader Joe’s fruit leather and cry in front of strangers.

One of the things I’ve gotten used to in the pandemic is that no one asks me about my life. This was true before 2020–I am a single woman and people generally assume that if you’re not publicly dating someone, you have nothing going on–but it is significantly truer now. Everyone is busier than ever, and is being abused by the institutions they’re employed by more than ever, plus every person I know seems to have had a top-10 worst life moment happen in the past couple of years. Early in the pandemic, we all talked about how every person was currently living through the caliber of crisis where, under normal circumstances, all of their people would rally around them. But because everyone needed support, no one was getting it, at least not fully. I haven’t heard anyone talk about that in a while.

Rarely this year has anyone asked how I’m doing, and for most of the year the answer has been: Really Bad. For close to a year now I’ve been dealing with a traumatizing situation that I’ve openly described as such, but I guess the fact that I appear to have deftly handled it undermines my words. Anyone who’s looked closely at my life this year would notice some serious unraveling at the seams; fortunately, almost no one has.

I feel self-absorbed for even noticing, because the truth of it is that, as in 2020 and 2021, everyone’s had a bad year. On the rare occasion that I acknowledge how difficult mine has been, I feel the need to immediately concede that the person I’m talking to has also had it rough and possibly rougher. I’m so unused to talking about myself and my life that doing so now makes me extremely self-conscious, like I’m a thief of airtime that belongs to someone else, someone whose life people care about. A couple of times this year I’ve considered quitting therapy, then realized that if I didn’t talk to my therapist each week, I would literally talk to no one.

A couple of months ago I saw someone I know slightly who, on paper, definitely had a worse year than I did. In an attempt to, I don’t know, find some common humanity or something, I mentioned that it had been a really hard year, the implied word being “collectively.” It wasn’t an attempt to minimize the other person’s challenges, or to start a contest over whose year had been worse, but that’s how the response felt. It was jarring to feel like I was supposed to agree that my life-threateningly bad year, the details of which I did not mention or allude to, was “not so bad” compared with someone else’s. I spent most of this year in a depth of despair that even I barely noticed; how can I expect other people to have picked up on it?

And the irony is, now people will ask. But if I’m talking about things, I’m fine. If I’m writing about things, I’m fine. If I’m posting about things, I’m fine. Anything that smacks of honesty and vulnerability in my public persona means I am fine. It’s handled, or it’s in the process of being handled. By me, generally alone. Which is a strange sort of comfort, really, as I’m the only person I’m certain will always be here with me. I almost feel inclined to build my walls higher, because despite the supposed shared experience of an awful few years, I find it hard to relate to anyone these days. I wonder if I’m jealous of people who can openly state that they’re in crisis, or even those who view every tiny setback as a crisis, a sign that God has it out for them, personally, when I think it’s pretty clear He has it out for all of us. I don’t feel sorry for myself; I’m aware that I do have it much, much easier than many people. But I do feel a bit sad.

Aspiring to a better morning routine

Aspiring to a better morning routine

Every morning I wake up at 5:30, meditate for 20 minutes, drink hot lemon water while writing five pages in my journal, and do half an hour of sun salutations. I assemble an acai bowl for breakfast, take a bath filled with lavender petals, and do my entire 10-step Korean skincare routine before getting ready for work.

LOL JK

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How to get out of a rut

How to get out of a rut

A couple of days ago, I was relistening to an old episode of my podcast that seemed particularly timely, so I decided to repurpose some of the content as a fresh blog post. A lot of us have been in a rut for all or most of the past couple of years, thanks to the pandemic. Lately I’ve been feeling more energized and focused, so I wanted to share some tips for getting back into that mindset for those of you who aren’t quite there yet.

I’ve spent most of the past two years grappling with grief, depression, brain fog, and a total lack of interest in basically anything that used to delight or inspire me. So I’m well aware that there’s no quick fix for getting back to a place where you feel like yourself, and I don’t want anyone to feel bad if nothing in this blog post helps. We’re all on our own schedules, and everyone I know who isn’t devoid of a soul has been struggling with other Big Life Things while trying to survive the weirdest two years of our lives. Alongside the pandemic, I’ve had to contend with the deaths of several people I loved and my father having multiple heart surgeries in 2020 and 2021. Beyond that, I had a separate trauma occur that I wasn’t ready to look directly at for several months after it happened, a major issue with my apartment that lasted a month, and some other fun stuff. So, also, I want to acknowledge that the pandemic is not the only bad thing any of us is dealing with right now.

With that disclaimer, if you’re starting to feel ready to work on something other than survival, here are some things that have worked for me:

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New Year’s Resolutions 2022

New Year’s Resolutions 2022

It has felt impossible to set or achieve goals the past two years. Only in the past couple of months have I felt remotely like the person I was prepandemic, and I’ve decided to celebrate with something I did every year in the Before Times: setting New Year’s Resolutions. Some of these I’ve adapted from my last list in 2020, as Pandi interfered with my ability to achieve them.

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10 things that are making my life noticeably better

10 things that are making my life noticeably better

Conventional wisdom suggests that you should spend money on experiences, not things, because things won’t make you happy. That is… not true for me. Plenty of things I buy make me happy. And moreover, experiences last only the length of that experience. It’s hard to access the feelings an experience gave me once it ends, whereas a favorite dress or pair of boots I get to enjoy over and over again. Having gone to Paris for a week in April isn’t going to do a damn thing for me when I’m stressed out in May, while the linen sheets and essential oils I purchased might actually be a source of comfort then. With that in mind, I wanted to share a few things I’ve bought (or received from other people) that are making my life noticeably better:

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Magical Nihilism #2 | Touch It Clean (Remix)

Magical Nihilism #2 | Touch It Clean (Remix)

I’ve decided to reproduce the issues of my newsletter here . This issue was initially sent to subscribers on September 7, 2021. Want to receive future issues in your inbox, before they land on the blog? Sign up here.

The subject of this email is a reference to a song I keep hearing on Instagram Reels, which I get because it’s super catchy and works well as the soundtrack to these videos where two conventionally hot women change outfits through the magic of video editing. But then occasionally it’s used in, like, a modesty fashion video and then it’s kind of jarring because the lyrics to the song are “She turned around and was tryin’ to put my dick in her mouth, I let her” and, like, maybe I’m missing something but if your idea of a summer outfit is a full-length sweatsuit it seems strange to set your video about said outfit to that particular song. 🤷🏻‍♀️

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Magical Nihilism #1 | The life-changing magic of being late for work ✨

Magical Nihilism #1 | The life-changing magic of being late for work ✨

I’ve decided to reproduce the issues of my newsletter here . This issue was initially sent to subscribers on August 30, 2021. Want to receive future issues in your inbox? Sign up here.

I came up with the concept of magical nihilism while walking to get breakfast on Friday morning, thinking for the 1000th time about how meaningless most things in life are. There are 168 hours in each week, which means I spend about one-fourth of my one wild and precious life creating value for the large organization I work for. It’s probably the best job I’ve had (other than when I worked at a children’s clothing boutique in college), and yet it still requires me to pretend to care about a lot of things that are unequivocally unimportant.

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How to quit

How to quit

I haven’t signed into my Twitter account since June 4. “I need to be on Twitter” is one of the stories I’m testing out during my #40StoriesProject, a yearlong attempt to learn which of the things I’m telling myself are outdated. The plan for this particular story was to stay off Twitter for three months, but having hit that milestone a few days ago, I don’t see myself going back. I was better informed when I was doomscrolling every day, but about what? If I want to know what’s happening in the world, I get the important stories elsewhere—newspapers, texts from friends, even Instagram. I don’t miss being extremely online, and my reduced exposure to, well, everything has freed up a lot of space and energy, which I’m putting toward personal projects after a lengthy creative drought during the pandemic. Even the alleged value of Twitter for someone interested in a writing career seems largely negated by how bad being on Twitter makes me feel about writers and writing.

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Are you sending rapid-fire emails and calling it a life?

Are you sending rapid-fire emails and calling it a life?

A few years ago I started going to therapy to figure out how to get my boyfriend to stop abusing me. I wasn’t the person in that relationship who most needed therapy, but I still needed it, and I was the person who was willing to go.

Anyway, even though my stated purpose for being in therapy was to deal with this specific situation, I found myself talking about work all the time. Good news for me: All of my issues were intertwined. I was letting a man control me through temper tantrums and gaslighting because I believed that, somewhere along the way, I had lost the right to manage my own life. And I had lost that right because, in my mind, I had become incompetent.

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