(Or: Rules for Surviving Terrible Things and Still Being Able to Laugh)
After my mum died, people were amazed that I could still smile. That I could laugh, and fall in love, and live. After I almost died, some were amazed at how I bounced back academically (others, not so much). And after I got some truly awful news from the doctor about a month ago, people are amazed that I can joke about it.
And, okay, yeah: I will readily admit that I’m not most people. That I have a stubborn streak that is less a “streak” than it is the foundation of who I am. There is a deep well of never surrender in the bottom of my soul. But it surprised me just how often other people were surprised. I have to wonder: what did they expect me to do? Lie down, give up, stop fighting? Declare myself incapable and incompetent, absolved of having to try? Was I supposed to scream, and sulk, and cry, and have a breakdown that sent me to the hospital or the psych ward?
I don’t know. But what I have done sure does seem to shock the everliving shit out of people. And I know that not everyone (read: very few people) are like me, but I don’t think I pulled through the aforementioned shit shows because I’m special. (Well, okay–since I can hear Ruby yelling at me from here, and I have a feeling that others are not far behind–I don’t believe that I am singular or unique in my ability to weather the clusterfucks of life.) To that end, here are eight rules that I live by, and that have helped me laugh even when absolutely everything sucks:
1) There Is Always Time For The Sexy. All the kinds of sexy (including reading, wearing, being, making, etc.). Because sometimes one small bit of feel-good makes all the difference.
2) There Is No Such Thing As “Too Much Cute”. Cute stories, cute pictures, and cute people; there can simply never be too many. Because it’s nice to know that good shit happens too, sometimes.
3) When In Doubt, Shut Your Mouth And Listen. This one should be self-explanatory, really: once something is said, it cannot be unsaid. Getting more information, delaying making a decision/committing to an opinion, and even just taking a minute to think things through can matter more than you know.
4) Never Walk Into Anything Completely Blind. Because what you don’t know really can hurt you–a lot.
5) Find Amusement/Pleasure/Delight In The Little Things. It’s perfectly alright to be amused by the typo in the newspaper, delighted with your new tea, and inordinately pleased by the way your skin feels after you get out of the bath. Because, I repeat: sometimes, one small bit of feel-good makes all the difference.
6) Create Adventures Out Of The Mundane. Because if you can turn a trip to the dollar store into an adventure (*cough*Hero*cough*), if you can find some way to tell a story despite the shittiness, then you can always walk away with something.
7) Find Something To Believe In. It doesn’t have to be religion. It can be morals or love or your best friend or science. It doesn’t matter. But believe in something–because there comes a day when everything seems to shake loose and fall apart, and if you have something to believe in, you have somewhere to start rebuilding.
8) Find Something To Be Grateful For. Because even when it feels like everything is horrible and nothing could ever get worse than it is right now . . . there will be something that you didn’t realize you were grateful for. Your favourite sweater. Your sister’s love. Your internet connection. Your good luck charm. Once you realize what that something is, you’re already better off than you were a minute ago.
I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.