“Dear Anna, thank you so much for your videos. Last year, a week before my 30th birthday, I found out my long term boyfriend was cheating on me. He was someone who I moved across the country for and financially supported while he was in business school. I fled our home after 3 days of finding out and haven’t looked back since. Healing has been transformative but excruciating. Friends are getting married and having babies. I’m hardly getting dates and even when I put myself out there, most times, guys want friends with benefits situations or they just fade out my life. I want to believe that a healthy love will find me and there is a man out there who will give it to me but it’s been hard especially when loved ones are confused as to why I’m still single especially given my life and career and all I have to offer. Do you have any advice?”
My Dearest Bad Biddie,
You don’t have to believe. I read your message yesterday, in the depths of a PMS-induced mental hellhole, feeling inexplicably like my life was over and wondering how I was going to respond to you in a way that didn’t make you feel worse. And then I woke up today and realized that, despite the fact that I wasn’t sure if yesterday was going to end, it did, and today began.
Contrary to what most self-help doctrines would have us think, I don’t believe we need to brainwash ourselves into joy or positive thinking on our worst days. Sure, wallowing in our own misery is likely not anymore useful than denial, but somewhere in between the despair you feel now and the joy you will feel later exists a place where you just…exist. Sometimes existing means not dating for a while if you need a break, sometimes it means swiping until your thumbs get sore, and sometimes it means realizing that just because you can’t see tomorrow doesn’t mean it won’t come.
A year ago, this day, I was probably walking around my quiet Connecticut neighborhood with my dog, having an existential crisis as to what I was going to do with the rest of my life now that I had quit the only well-paying job I ever had to move to the suburbs with my husband and had all but failed at becoming an actress. I remember trying to accept the fact that all I was ever going to be was a suburban mom who once thought she could be in the movies, but instead, just married well. There are a lot of people who would have been content with my set-up at the time. Many women don’t need a flourishing career in the arts to feel fulfilled in life and being a mother is, from what I hear, one of the most fulfilling roles there is. That just wasn’t me.
I wanted it all – the husband, the dog, AND the career. You have the career, and I’m not sure of your feelings on dogs, but you’re missing the husband, and just like how I could’ve never, in my wildest dreams, have fathomed that I would be making a living from sharing my life on the internet today, you cannot fathom what tomorrow, next month, or next year has in store for you. Your job is not to see into the future, but to do what makes today a little more joyful for you. Yesterday, the only thing that brought me joy was thumbing through pages of houses I’ll never be able to afford in New England Home. I don’t know what makes you happy today, but I hope you go and do it, no matter how small that thing is, and then just remember to keep going – keep putting yourself out there, going on failed dates, fielding the questions from your confused inner circle, regardless of whether you believe your efforts will be futile or fruitful. One day, you’ll look back and understand that this period of stagnation was actually a period of growth – you just couldn’t see it, much like how we can’t see the roots of a plant growing underground. Give yourself the luxury of time to break free of the soil and one day, you’ll realize you’ve bloomed.
Your internet hype woman