my Survival Guide to Horrible Things

This column is dedicated, with great sadness, to a close friend of mine who lost her brother in between when I wrote it and when I published it.

Concept lovingly stolen from Sady Doyle’s “Ruining Your Life” post over at Rookie, which I quoted.

My column from today has been shared around a lot (I mean… by my friends. but it’s not like they share everything I write) which I really appreciate, even as I am busy non-appreciating the fact that I have no idea whether the new Pitt News site is going to have any kind of record of the things I wrote that were published on the old site, so a lot of my past year’s work may or may not be Lost Forever. Which would be a bummer. But either way, here is today’s look at What I’ve Been Doing With My Life:

Captain Awkward, my favorite advice blogger, stresses the importance of having people on Team You. Team You should almost always include a therapist, but it’s equally important to have a strong network of friends. These are the people you can call up when you’re freaking out and say, “Can you get coffee with me in five minutes?” They won’t judge you for being negative or complain that all you talk about is the horrible thing, because they understand that you’re going through a temporary crisis and that you need support.

If you don’t have those friends, find another way to build a strong Team You. If you haven’t made friends like that at college yet, don’t be shy about calling your high school friends. Start group therapy. For most horrible things, there are online forums for people to support each other — find one that suits your needs, whether it’s a website tailored specifically toward your problem or a special forum on a site such as Reddit. The people who form your online support network can become lasting friends, or they can be a crutch to get through the hardest part until you have more allies in meatspace. The important thing is having a network of people who can listen to you talk about your arrest without offering unsolicited amateur legal advice, or tell you that it’s okay to be angry at your ex, but for the love of God, do not send them that Facebook message to that ex you’ve drafted.

It is preferable to have your parents on Team You, but sometimes they are not.

“Survival Guide to Horrible Things,” October 2012

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