Heather Havrilesky is the woman behind the Ask Polly columns on nymag where she gives advice to people on a variety of topics. Quotable advice is my favorite form of self help. I especially love Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Dear Sugar’ (the book, not podcast, even though the podcast is fantastic). Now, this book is different from Dear Sugar. Heather Havrilesky is no Cheryl Strayed, not in that she’s less in any way, but she’s really just different. I also find that the people who write to her occasionally have the most ridiculous “dilemmas” but she manages to weave some far reaching advice out of their situation.
Heather is sometimes tough love, sometimes comical but always insightful in these columns. She seems so attuned to human psychology and there were at least three columns that made me sit and examine my own life and relationships. At the end of some of these columns, I just clutched my ipad to my chest and took many deep breaths because she was speaking my lifeee.
My favorite quotes are from her advice on love and friendship (duh). She also gives great advice on creativity and making the best of situations. I think this is one of those books everyone should read.
“There is magic that comes from reaching out. I don’t believe in many things, but I believe in that, with all of my heart.”
“when we fixate on boys starting at a very young age, every pointless, empty interaction with a dude starts to seem powerful and electric.”
“By filling our heads with Shower Fresh–scented fantasy worlds, we not only start to expect too much but we also become easily bored with the real world and its very real magic”
“You have to train yourself to romanticize a life outside of men and create a tapestry that’s just as rich without a guy in it. That requires a kind of buoyant solitude that isn’t easy to achieve”
“You have to protect yourself from yourself, too. You can open your heart and tell the truth to your trusted friends. That’s good for you. But don’t tell yourself that you’re confident enough to share yourself with just anyone. Don’t open up to people who don’t understand and accept you yet. Wait until you feel completely comfortable.”
“Resist the urge to reveal every inch of yourself—or to invite people to your place—immediately. Let them get to know you gradually.”
“Listen closely when someone asserts his or her boundaries. Because that’s healthy behavior, even if it’s not to your taste at this point. Learn from them. Because most people avoid problems instead of asserting themselves. They clam up. They disappear. That’s the coward’s path, even if it’s a path a lot of us take”
“Painting someone as weak or pathetic for feeling hurt or overwhelmed or heartbroken is inexcusable. It’s antihuman. This world is filled with people who think feeling less, being indifferent, makes you strong. Don’t believe that. Be one of the smart, thoughtful people who stands up for sensitive people. When you stand up for sensitive, hurt people, you’re also standing up for vulnerability and authenticity and true love.”
“And in my experience, being LESS busy doesn’t lead to making more/better art. Sometimes it can cause your gears to grind to a halt completely.”
“The mid- to late twenties are often an apex of friendless desperation. To make matters worse, people feel very self-conscious about their friendlessness at that age, as if everything should’ve fallen into place a long time ago”
“in order to make very close friends in a natural, organic way, you have to cast a wide net and be accepting and give it time. You can’t use the aggressive, early twentysomething’s tactics, because it poisons the whole process to believe that you’re trying to hunt and trap the perfect BFF”
“honestly, I don’t know a better way to battle existential angst and fear than by seizing each day by the throat and forcing it into a shape that feels productive and healthy and on track. You do not sit around bemoaning the big picture, day in and day out.”
“It is possible to admit that life is a struggle and also embrace the fact that small things—like sons who call you and beloved dogs in framed pictures and birds that tell you to drink your tea—matter. They matter a lot.”
I thought it was easily a 4/5.