A few times a month, I’ll receive a message either on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or via email asking me for help. For advice. For an opinion on what they should do.
Y’all, social media is a funny and crazy and daunting thing, but it also has this weird way of bringing people together.
It’s humbling, every time I receive one of these messages. From strangers, from friends, from strangers who become friends. And it’s flattering to think that someone somewhere might think I have some answers, or was enough of a catalyst to help someone try to find help for themselves. I don’t think it has much to do with being inspirational so much as it does that most of the issues I talk and write about are things I have struggled with, am struggling with, and am honest about struggling with. Trying to navigate work, relationships, my incessant yet incredibly annoying habit of thinking that ‘perfect’ is and should be this obtainable goal, and adulting in general are all things that I have and will always be open about. Life is hard and confusing as hell sometimes. But from my experience, there’s comfort in knowing you aren’t alone in this thang.
And when you’re a peer, an equal, another regular person who faced any given monster and is doing okay, sometimes that’s less intimidating than a therapist or a doctor or a parent or anyone else in your immediate life who might unknowingly judge you as they try to help. One of the things computer screens have given us is a little piece of illuminated hope, the kind of hope that doesn’t ever touch your real life unless you want it, and the kind that allows you to be anonymous. When you’re struggling, knowing that you’re letting that hope in on your life is sometimes the most blessed thing. It’s empowerment. And who doesn’t like a big ‘ol slice of that every now and then? I know I do, preferably covered in cheese and pepperoni.
But I hardly know what to tell people, in part because I am not an advice columnist, and because I don’t know their lives, and because I am scared to take the ownership of giving bad advice. The truth is, my life is still messy in places. I don’t have it all figured out. I’m trying, and each and every day I learn something new, and grow, but I’m still a work in progress. I think we all are in a way. Nine times out of 10, I’m making my own answers to my life up as I go.
I suppose this is an apology, in part, if you’ve ever asked me something and I didn’t respond. I probably didn’t know how. That’s hardly an excuse, because I could have tried, but I am human too. And humans get scared sometimes. Of our emotions, of our history, of our struggles and our scars. Sometimes we’re scared that if we poke the box where we packed all those bad things away, the memories of those struggles will peep their ugly heads back out. Sometimes giving advice feels like that.
But one thing I do know is that I can cheer you on. I can ask questions. I can tell you that deep down, you know what you need to do, you just want someone else to tell it to you because that’s the easy way. I can be rhetorical and tricky and universal, and it would probably seem personal because when you seek advice, you latch onto whatever you can and call it yours. And I will do all of these things, if that is what you want and need. Because I really do hope that the people who find even the smallest amount of inspiration in my own story know that someone is cheering for them. Someone always is.
But though I can root for you and tell you that if I made it through, so can you, I cannot fix you. I don’t have the answers. None of us do. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have, but the Internet and the transparency and immediacy of communication means we can do it together.
I cannot fix you. But then again, I shouldn’t. That’s not my job. The only person who can and should and might fix you is you. Trust that you’ll be able to do that.
You’re more capable than you think.