I have this friend.
She’s an aspiring novelist, and I fully intend to read her book someday when she gets a lucrative publishing deal, even if it’s not my preferred genre.
She’s a librarian in search of a library (anybody need a good librarian?), working at The Call Center of Doom until that elusive Something Better comes along.
She’s a furmama to a hilarious little dog and an appropriately aloof cat.
She’s a cheeseball, a corndog, a nutcase, and other food-based slang terms meaning “a real hoot”.
She’s generous, hilarious, witty, clever, smart as the dickens, brassy, bold, and adventurous.
She’s Proud Auntie to a little guy whom we occasionally joke about smuggling out in a backpack, because he is zomg so cute.
Oh, and also she has cancer.
But when I sit down to describe her, the C-word is not the first word that comes to mind. Heck, it’s not even in the top 10–because yeah, yeah, doctors appointments tests treatments blah blah blah, but mostly she’s out there doin’ her thing, being awesome and inexplicably single and rockin’ her life, and the C-word is just this thing she has to handle sometimes. Something that periodically complicates her calendar. Something, from what I can tell, that’s akin to filing taxes of having menstrual cramps in her world–a pain in the neck, nowhere near as fun as Disneyland, but it’s there and you deal with it and really, what else are you going to do? Cry all the time?
And I admire the bejeezus outta this gal, both because she’s just cool as heck intrinsically and because she’s doing the single greatest job I have ever seen of having a big elephant in the room, pointing at it occasionally and saying “By the way, that’s my elephant”, and then moving on with her day. Most of you are probably thinking the word “strength” by this point, but really, it seems more like just a spectacularly reasonable, level-headed acceptance of the worst gift ever. It sucks, we all acknowledge it, and since there’s no news from the doctor, let’s talk about whether she can rock the bridesmaid dress she tried on a few months back (answer: YES.). It’s like that.
I’m telling you about her today not just because she deserves to have her praises sung occasionally, but also because in the last coupla days I’ve had various forms of social media get just alllll bogged down in people who are doing the exact opposite thing. They have their problems, y’know, like everybody does, and that. is. all. they. talk. about. Like, ever. Like, every single thing they say starts–or ends, or includes somewhere in the middle–with “because of this GIANT BURDEN I CARRY, here is how my day is going”, or “Gosh, I’d sure love to do X, but I can’t because of my GIANT BURDEN”, or (heaven help me), “I’m glad you’re having a wonderful time, but because of my GIANT BURDEN my day has been crappy and you wouldn’t understand because I am the ONLY ONE WITH THIS GIANT BURDEN IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD”.
Now, look. I am absolutely not saying that people shouldn’t reach out for emotional support when they’re CARRYING A GIANT BURDEN OF DOOOOOOM. There are, what, nearly 7 billion of us on this planet now? Nobody should ever feel like they have to shoulder their heavy load alone.
And I’m not saying that people should suffer in silence. If something is going on in your world, by all means, speak up. That’s the whole blessed point of social media, from what I can tell. Maybe someone out there has a solution, or an idea, or at least a shoulder to cry on. You have a voice, and you absolutely have the right to use it, especially in these here You-nited States of ‘Murrica.
What I am saying is this:
Hearing the same song over and over on the radio is boring.
Eating the same food every day for dinner is boring.
Reading the same lamentation-filled status updates every day–and sometimes multiple times per day–from a person is boring, and I cannot for even one second imagine that living inside their head is any better. Yes, I know that this is why the “hide” option exists, and in some cases, I’ve used it; but please indulge me for a moment while I strap on my Cast-Iron Buffalo suit and say some things for the record:
1. There is a very real chance that Person X has stopped calling you because you used to be really interesting but now all you do is complain.
2. There is a very real chance that Person Y didn’t invite you to their party because you have a lot of extremely cool hobbies but you never talk about any of them, opting instead to moan about your circumstances.
3. There is a 100% chance that I personally didn’t invite Person Z to the latest get-together because the thought of you deciding not to talk about any of the cool things you do and instead cornering people and being vitriolic with your opinions sounded like the opposite of fun, and it’s my house so I don’t have to invite you if I don’t wanna.
…So maybe instead we can all agree to consider the alternative: maybe we can choose to point at our elephant, introduce him to people, then leave him to munch on peanuts while we get on with the living of our lives. We can decide that wallowing is only fun if you’re a hippo, and the rest of us have more interesting things to do with our days. We can decide to drop the zoo animals comparisons and just say outright that people are way more interesting and fun to be around when they talk, at least occasionally, about something other than their struggles–I love people for who they are, not the burdens they carry, and while I can’t speak for anyone else, I can personally say that when your burdens start subsuming your identity, I start finding it difficult to remember what I liked about you in the first place.
In other words, maybe we can agree to try to be a little bit more like my friend, who is too busy being awesome to complain very much.
Well, she doesn’t complain very much about the C-word. She does complain about the quality of the fellows she’s dated recently and how no libraries have hired her yet, but I suspect both of those are “just a matter of time” problems.
…BTW, any men out there who are rich, single, and need a librarian? I know this gal….