Have you ever heard of Cat Marnell? She’s a magazine writer in New York City. She wrote columns for xojane, and Vice, and was a beauty editor at Conde Nast, but what she’s really famous for is being a hard-partying liability. Her addiction memoir was released in the US last week. It’s a fast and fascinating read – dark and sugar-coated(!) and real all at once. But her memoir is also an excellent and honest story with a lot of lasting insights. Here are five things I took from this book on the fast life that might actually help you live your best life:
1. Let go of Your Imposter Syndrome.
While the term “imposter syndrome” isn’t used in the book, I couldn’t help but think if it from the beginning, when Cat talks about how she was a beauty editor that was falling apart from her addiction. Still, she acknowledges she was always meant to be a beauty writer, and doesn’t doubt that she’s earned her place at Conde Nast. Even though Cat would stay out all night before coming into work, she’s didn’t wring her hands in guilt about being a fake or leading a double life. Instead, throughout her story, you see her balancing her strengths and weaknesses, and letting her writing and career be a product of both.
2. Don’t Move to New York for the Glamour.
This book talks about rats and mice, about ruining velvet Marc Jacobs pumps in disgusting subway puddles, about huge cockroaches in the shower, hoarders situations that exist in studio apartments paid for by trust funds, about garbage bags full of designer clothes in storage units – and it is spot on. If you’ve never lived in New York, you should read this before watching a Gossip Girl rerun and heading to Times Square. Seriously. For all the money and glitz in New York, it is still a filthy place.
3. Beware: Not Everything Life-Murdering is Illegal.
Cat says the very beginning of her addictions was when she was prescribed Ritalin to treat her clinically, off-the-charts ADD in high school. Even though a lot of the drugs she takes are legal and prescribed to her, nothing stops her from abusing the system and harming herself.
She also becomes addicted to binge-eating and purging. It’s clear she relates to food as if it is a drug – she writes of “pounding froot loops in a dark trance” and binging on sweets to induce a sugar coma when she can’t sleep. Because so many different things can and do manifest as addictions for Cat, this story will make you think twice about anything you put in your body.
4. If You Are Lonely – You are Not Alone.
Even socialites like Cat are lonely. The thread of honest and painful loneliness throughout her book is just as powerful as the confessions of drug abuse. Cat tells us about longing to have friends to watch fireworks with her first summer in New York, the abusive boyfriend she keeps around because she believes she has no one else, and how she went to a support group for addicts alone on her 27th birthday.
Although she has often been called a socialite, she admits when she first moved to New York, she desperately wanted to go to clubs but didn’t have any friends. For all the connections she has made, she first found her downtown crew by inviting herself to tag along with comedians she barely knew as a college student! There are a lot of honest stories in How To Murder Your Life that show being rich and beautiful doesn’t insulate your from loneliness.
5. No Matter How Hard You Crash – Don’t Burn Bridges.
At the end of How to Murder Your Life, Cat is better – well enough to write the whole book – but not necessarily in a clean and pristine place of sobriety. Her story is one of addiction versus ambition. IN telling of her ambitious literary career, she name-drops a lot- Eva Chen, Jean Godfrey June, Jane Pratt, Lesly Arfin. Despite her no-holds-barred confessional style, she has only glowing things to say about her literary colleagues. She even goes out of her way to apologize for a negative interview she once gave. All this makes you think, despite “negative attention” from her very public addictions, she is still being super tactical about her ascent through the publishing world. SWAG!