Unfortunately, no one gives us a manual on how to handle life. Sure, we have countless psychiatrists and Dr. Phil writing them left and right but no one wants to read those. You know why life manuals never work out? Because everyone handles things differently. There is no clear right or wrong way to handle our feelings and our situations. We do what we need to do to survive, to wake up every morning and continue on with our lives. The only way to deal with life is to keep living it. And god damn it, it’s really hard sometimes.
People handle love differently. Some people respond to it with open arms. Others push it away or fight back against it for various reasons.
People handle compliments differently. Some people say thank you and appreciate the compliment. Others say thanks but they won’t look at you and will immediately change the subject because compliments feel weird to them. And others will just reject whatever you say to either gain more compliments or because they really feel that low about themselves and they can’t accept any compliments in their life.
People handle marriage differently. Some people love the idea of spending the rest of their lives with another human being. Others find it to be the most terrifying, off putting, and/or daunting task in life. And others don’t even factor it into their life plan because it’s never been a goal or priority for them.
People handle children differently. Some people are born to be mothers/fathers. Some people are born to be aunts/uncles. And some people are born to be none of the above.
People handle conflict differently. Some people address conflict head on until it’s completely resolved. Others run from it. Or ignore it. And others just let it go (these people are my idols).
People handle bad news differently. Some people keep it to themselves and deal with it internally. Others need to lean on their friends or family members because the weight of the bad news is too heavy and they can’t carry it by themselves.
People handle death differently. Some people cry for hours on end when the death first happens. Some don’t process it till days, weeks, months afterwards- not until something hits them out of nowhere and then it’s a debilitating feeling. Some stay strong for the other people around them but break down in private. Some just stay strong no matter what. Some find comfort in the deceased person’s clothing or personal items. Others can’t even stand be in the same room with those items. Some find comfort in going to cemeteries. Others think there’s nothing left in a cemetery for them. Some people can only think about the things they regret, the things they didn’t do or say. Others think about all the good times, the conversations they did have, the laughs, the love they shared.
I could go on forever about the different ways people handle situations in life. There are a million ways which is why there can’t be a definitive Life Manual. Life is too complex. And although we all face the same things- love, death, illness, heartbreak, sorrow, and joy- they feel completely unique to each and every one of us.
So here’s my solution: Write your own Life Manual. Personalize it to you and your needs. Make lists of the things you need when your significant other is bugging the crap out of you. A list of things you need when you receive bad news. Maybe a list of songs you like to listen to when you’re in a good mood. Or a shitty mood. Or when someone passes, listen to their favorite songs or watch their favorite movies. Make a list of your emergency people- the people you know will listen to you, the people who will give advice, or the people you call when you don’t want advice, you just need to vent.
Write you own Life Manual. I think the best time to write it is when your life is calm, that way when the storm comes, you grab your manual, you pick the tab with your current situation on it (love, death, illness, heartbreak, sorrow, or joy) and you get to work. You pull your resources and you do what you want to do.
Life is cruel bitch sometimes which is why we have to enjoy the calm when it’s here. Enjoy the small things: movies, books, your friends, a huge plate of nachos, a bag of Oreos, going for a run, your pets, your kids, your family.
And when the storm comes…grab your manual.
You’re going to need it.