Here is the truth: the world we live in is a world where people present their shiniest, most perfect faces to the lens, broadcast it far and wide, all the while crossing their fingers behind their backs.
Beneath, behind and beyond, things might be shit. Things are probably shit. Things might be falling apart in ways you can’t even imagine. Or, they might just be feeling a bit blue because the inevitable return of the rain means that they won’t feel really, properly warm in a park in the sun until June, and that sucks.
We all do it: hide the flaws and the fuck ups. Nobody posts the stains and the failures to their Facebook wall.
You probably do it too, because you’re only human and because a problem shared isn’t always a problem halved: sometimes it’s a problem gone viral, insidious, thrown back in your face again and again. Sometimes talking about it is nothing more than an echo of the fact that things have gone wrong, again, and nobody can fix them.
Your responsibility to yourself, though, behind that serene and smiling face is to find things that make you feel good, and do them. Do them to help yourself, and do them to fix the small stuff. I am not you, and I do not know what makes you feel good, and if that thing is killing babies, then don’t do that. But if you’re feeling a little off, or a little low, here are a list of things that make me feel good that you could try. Here is what I do.
Have a bath
Run it hot, run it deep, fill it with things that smell good (not Sunday roast), then sink your sweaty, dirty self in there and mull. Mull like Harry Potter in the Prefect’s bathroom. Stew like a tea-bag. Or set up Netflix on your laptop on the toilet seat and empty your mind of everything except the heat and the un-knotting.
Look at pictures of the Good Stuff
One good thing about those shiny happy pictures is that they’re forever; captured moments that you can revisit, and step back into. Whether that’s snaps of yourself as a child, or last year, when you felt a little more yourself, it’s OK to go back. Just remember to turn back around when you’re done, and remember that there are plenty more pictures to be taken, and that they might be even better.
Re-read or re-watch something that delights you
For me it’s Grey’s Anatomy and Gilmore Girls; anything by Marian Keyes or Enid Blyton; everything featuring Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. Titanic. Stardust. Chick flicks, re-runs, videos of babies laughing. Sue me. Find your pleasure and use it. It’s not going to run out.
Change something small
For me, it’s usually my hair – a fringe trim, or a colour change. It might be re-arranging your room, though, or a different lipstick hue, or an altered commute. Something new for breakfast or a different bedtime. Just shake things up, a tiny bit, not enough to tip them over, but enough to remind yourself that you’re the one in control here, and that keeping things exactly the same can sometimes be twice as damaging as wrecking them altogether.
Throw something away
We hang on to an awful lot of baggage, in the form of stacks of old papers, reams of discoloured memories, wrappers, bottles, scraps of fabric. Empty things and broken things. Discard something you don’t need, whether it’s something you never really needed, or something you’ve outgrown. You don’t have to keep it all around you, especially if it’s weighing you down. You owe nothing to your things.
Don’t get down on your knees and scrub at the yellowed ring on your rented toilet like it did something cruel to your mother – just blow the dust off something, or go to town on your stained and smeared wineglasses. Alternatively, watch videos of things being waterblasted. Just as satisfying, with none of the grind.
You’ve probably left someone behind that you still love. Chances are, they’re still there.
Buy something you want
This doesn’t make you materialistic, and it doesn’t make you shallow. Buying something that gives you pleasure – a hat, a ring, a 12-inch dildo – is nothing more or less than giving someone you like something you know they’ll like. You’d do it for your friend. There’s no harm in being that friend to yourself.
Make a plan
The future, whether you want to hear it or not right now, is sitting there, blank and waiting. So pencil something on it that makes you happy – a trip, or a movie, or a date, or a day to yourself – to remind yourself that it is yours to write on, to alter and change and fuck up and smooth out and write on again, and it always was.
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