Thought Catalog
April 7, 2017

A Customer Service Inquiry For All The Self-Help Articles That Didn’t Actually Help Me

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What is the issue?

I want to tell you how I finally did something. How I finally learned how to be happy. How I finally learned how to make someone love me. How I finally learned how to have good relationships with everyone in my family. How I finally learned how to write 2,000 words a day painlessly. How I finally learned how to make myself lose weight. How I finally learned how to eat kale and do yoga and think nice thoughts about everyone else all day, every day and be universally loved and acclaimed and supremely content. I want to tell you how I am in that victory lap where I am talking about all my problems in the past tense only.

All my life I have been waiting to finally learn how to do something. All my life I have been reading about people who finally learned to do something and feeling like a dumb fuck because every time I apply that one weird trick to my actual life I am not yielding these same magical results. When will I finally learn how to finally learn?

Let me tell you what a stupid consumer I am because although I should know better, every time I see an article like ‘How I Finally Learned to Love Myself’ I click on it. I think this other person has found a way to get to this make believe stasis of loving yourself because they are smarter or less lazy or less damaged than I am. I can’t get out of this way of thinking that if I just knew the right equation I could be this fully optimized perfect person.

Let me tell you how much smarter all the things that don’t even have brains are because sequoias don’t need to read ‘How I Finally Learned To Grow Fat And Tall And Live For Hundreds Of Years’. Sequoias are alive for that purpose, they just do that. If sequoias were more like humans, they would read articles like ‘How I Finally Learned To Be A Palm Tree’ and feel frustrated that all their attempts to alter fundamental ontological realities of their existence don’t work, as if it is a moral failing on their part that they cannot do something it is not in their nature to do.

I think maybe I am trying to be a palm tree. I think maybe my fundamental ontological reality as a human being is to be a work in progress, to solve my problems slowly, personally, and over and over again. This is uncomfortable for me to consider.

A radical question: what if I just did what I was alive for?

What if I accepted that for the rest of my time on earth there are going to be days where I don’t love myself even after I have read an article titled ‘How I Finally Learned To Love Myself’?

I am pretty sure there isn’t an action I can take and then love myself and exist in that state without ceasing for however many more minutes or decades I am alive, and yet I can’t stop desiring this exact fictional substance. What this tells me about my nature is that there is some sticky state in me of being “here” but wanting to be “there”, which remains constant no matter which “here” or “there” I am currently in. My nature prefers to desire something more than it prefers to be content with something — to question something more than it prefers to answer something.

Maybe, for now, I can release some of the guilt and shame of having not finally learned so many things because I can understand that thinking about a given problem is closer to the purpose of my existence than solving it is. TC mark

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