(Originally Posted April 19th, 2017.)
I hate platitudes, don’t you? I feel like they bar the ability for someone to communicate actual helpful words. They are rote and glib and sound good as a soundbite, but often already occurred to the asker of help, so are thus useless.
There seems to be an almost universal box of platitudes for every occasion.
Single, and don’t want to be? “You need to put yourself out there.”
“You’ll find them.”
In a sour mood? Depressed? “Well, you just need to think positive!”
Overwhelmed? Nothing working? The thing you were working toward fall apart? “Don’t give up!”
“Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.”
I mean, sometimes, in the right moments, these are indeed helpful. But, Christ, don’t I wish more people would say: “I don’t know. I do not know the answer.”
Because that would be more honest, and you know what? It’s in a way helpful. Cathartic. Because, perhaps one of the most brutal parts of having a problem, is that you look around and no one else seems to have that problem. And that makes you feel alone, on top of everything.
Well, in case you needed to hear it:
“Yes, we all have issues like that. No one has all the answers all the time. We don’t often know quite what we’re doing. We did what we could and stumbled onto the solutions. And you are not alone. You are not alone. And you will be okay.”
Now, that’s not to say that the advice people give, that the help people give, is always useless. I’m not a diehard pessimist, after all. But if things seem desperate, I am here to give one platitude I find to be true most of the time.
“The big-ass panicky problem will often sort itself out.”
I once described adulthood as a continuous cycle of “Well fuck, I’m going to collapse into a fiery pile of failure,” and then “Eh, that wasn’t so bad. Worked out well enough.”
Again, exceptions occur. People with terminal illnesses I’m sure aren’t suddenly going to sort themselves out without help—but for a lot of life’s oddness and strife, it will work itself out with a little communication and a little time.
Most people are not mean or evil, and you are more capable of solving or mitigating problems than I think you’ve ever seen in yourself. A lot of time, if you are sincere in your apologies, and willing to make up for things: people willforgive you. There’s a way out. And stuff you are sure will somehow destroy you, will not mean a fucking thing in a month. You’ll be okay, just keep living.
If you’ve been without something for so long, or never had it, the second you get it, your memories are likely to fade on all that suffering. Which means the suffering might not have been worth it in the past.
Again, you are capable of more than you think.
If you find platitudes are driving you batty, and you’ve heard it all before, and no one’s advice seems workable in the slightest, then perhaps it is time for the outlandish. It’s time for a new answer.
You’d be surprised how often you know what you need to do to solve a problem. I find I am often asking others only to confirm or talk me out of what I already know to be correct. Instincts are there, and listening to them, no matter how frightening, might be the solution.
Because I don’t have all the answers either. I just want to help with what I can. Offer what advice I do have. Free of as many platitudes as possible. And to tell you, the reader, that you are still, even if you are in a room with no one else there, reading this as the sole source of light on a computer screen, not alone.
I’m here. At least in my words. And I hope that’s helpful to you.