It’s all very easy to wallow, but it’s no fun. I should know – I used to do it a lot. In my teenage years I was a Goth. Well, I was a miserable, spotty girl that wore a lot of black and hung out in the library, listening to songs about people as misunderstood as me. It wasn’t really that people misunderstood me; it’s just that the school popularity pyramid was a game that I didn’t want to play. My friends were in books. They solved mysteries instead of doing drugs and they had midnight feasts instead of dodging behind the bike sheds. I don’t even know if my school HAD bike sheds, that’s how often I went outside, but I do know that we had a ton of books.
So I read. I replaced the audio-sulking with new worlds and movies inside my mind. I wrote my own worlds too, mostly dystopian gloom lands, but we were reading Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Handmaid’s Tale, so technically I was brainwashed. It was a good way to get the darkness out of me. I spilled the sadness out onto the paper like ink, and, by the time I left school, I was largely cured. In the real world I made friends, people that I could laugh with, people who didn’t see me as a shadow, but as a person, and it made me realise that I was a person worth being.
I learned more from being happy and visible than I ever learned from wallowing in the dank pits of my murky brain. I learned that life was a lot bigger when you decided to live, rather than to lurk in corners waiting to cry. Yes there were disappointments, failures, fall-outs, break-ups, break-downs and deaths, but with every black eye, I learned to dodge that bit faster, and with every tumble, I managed to scramble to my feet quicker every time. It all goes around, it’s all a work in progress, it’s all research, and people that you thought were above you fall pretty fast when the high school blue print fades.
When my dad died, I didn’t wallow. Instead I ate a LOT of muesli and took a LOT of pictures of myself in excellent lighting. Those are two of my favourite things and, if it had been possible at the time, I probably would also have kissed a LOT of men with beards and bought a LOT of novelty balloons too. Sometimes life is hard, but that doesn’t mean that it’s stopped working. You get up, dust yourself down, don some rainbow-coloured, fluffy leg warmers and smile, because every second is either used or wasted, and frown lines suck.
So the next time something bad happens to you, by all means, let the darkness out; scream, cry, draw, write or punch a pillow, but don’t let go of who you are and don’t hurt yourself, because you don’t deserve it. Then, and this is THE most important part, do something really silly. Do something that would make the popular girls sneer. Do the chicken dance, sing reaaaaaaally bad karaoke, wear every hat you own at the same time, write a Dutch opera about Barbie engaging in an illicit affair with a sock puppet, then act it out in earnest. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself that life can be silly and fun and more than a little ludicrous. Then send me the video, because we could all do with a little Dutch opera in our lives.