Perhaps I should have named this blog “JoJo Complains about Everything”, because that seems to have been my trend of late. Still, I’m not going to lie here in my comfy hermit’s nest and pretend like I’m some sort of positive minded person. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I find that whole ‘rose tinted’ outlook nauseating and dull.
Consequently whenever something goes wrong in my life I get a double blow. Not only has the thing gone wrong but I’m left looking like a dick. As people line up to tell me how things will work out for the best and it just wasn’t meant to be, I can’t restrain myself from pointing out that that’s a plain crazy way to think.
It will all work out? What exactly are people basing this off of? Is there some alternate version of history that everyone’s read but me? Did it all work out for Joan of Arc? How about Julius Caesar, where do you think the upside of the ides of March was for him? Vincent Van Gogh died a failure, Tesla died penniless, and Edgar Allan Poe died in a gutter (more or less).
Unless everyone else in the universe exists in different reality to the one I’ve got, it seems to me that the expectation for everything to just work out for the better is wildly misinformed. Look around you. I know that society tends to focus only on the fluffy success stories. But if you were to pile everything that ever happened to every living person into two piles, dividing them by times things magically worked out and times that things went tits up. I think you’d find tits more than usually up. Your piles would prove the rose colored view is based on nothing more than wishes and fairy dust.
It really is just an aspirational thing to say “it will all work out”. The good feelings it produces are its only real value. What people should say is “Things will just happen, you have no control. Better be prepared to make the best of what you get.” But I think we can all see why the second version has never really caught on as a pep talk standard.
I find it a little sad that the more realistic piece of advice isn’t the one moms and best friends around the nation are doling out when the miserable party comes looking for some honest to god help. No matter how many times you tell a lie, it’s still a lie. It doesn’t matter how many times we repeat “It will all work out”, it’s not going to suddenly start meaning anything. Why give a false sense of assurance when you could be a helpmate in bringing someone towards a rational appreciation of failure, and therefore a genuine growth opportunity?
Why do we always shy away from telling each other the truth? Of course I know why. But I mean, why do we think it does any good? Chances are the person you’re telling that lie to has told it to somebody else before. They know you’re full of shit, you know you’re full of shit. Why not just admit to the shit?
If we really want to make people feel less terrible we should acknowledge that a good deal of the time, things just don’t go your way and there’s really very little you can do about that. I know that this may come across as fatalistic, but I honestly believe that this is the less cynical way. Because what is by all appearances the more optimistic response is in reality a way to obviate actual guidance in exchange for meaningless platitudes. The view that things in all likelihood won’t work out the way you plan them too but that each person has the opportunity and responsibility to make the most of what they get, seems to me much more encouraging than the invitation to lie back and wait for destiny to deliver the life of your dreams straight to your doorstep.
This, I guess, is the problem with popular advice in general. Its goal is to make you feel just good enough to shut-up and pass it on. “It will all work out” is just the same as all the rest of the inspirational claptrap that people are always spouting. Again and again you find yourself affirmed to continue in your current state and “believe” in whatever particular shade of bullshit happens to be in this year. And you fester and you rot, but you feel great about it. I want more from my advice. I want to grow.
As I’ve said before I’m not in the best place right now. Some of my current situation is a result of decisions I’ve made and some of it is the result of things outside my control. But even in this valley, I would like to pass on the advice I wish people would give me. As the children say, #realtalk, straight from a girl in the pits of despair to you, the kind readers of things on the internet.
If you feel lost or without hope remember this; there are always potentially negative outcomes and potentially positive outcomes to each and every decision we make. These outcomes are always unknown because they exist only as potentials. They are also functionally infinite because it is impossible for the human mind to grasp the entire rippled effects of every outcome. Therefore, every choice we make in life is both a mistake and a success, because the infinite amount of unknown potential outcomes will always be infinitely positive and infinitely negative. It is up to you to decide whether you will find and build upon the positive or be crushed by the negative. It’s not about expecting things to work out. It’s about working things out, and it’s not easy or pretty or usually successful, but that’s what you get, that’s all you get. Make the most of it.
And that is as close to life affirming as I go, friends.