December 18, 2014

Why it’s not uncool to talk about “big life questions”

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It’s no secret that I have always been a massive fan of Cheryl Strayed. I wrote a blog post here where I gushed about how much I loved her book “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar, which is a compilation of some of her best Dear Sugar conversations.

Basically it’s the best of Dear Sugar in one place. Dear Sugar is a very famous agony aunt/advice column on the Rumpus.net – and it’s fantastic. Some good news I discovered this week is that Dear Sugar is back, in the form of a podcast. It features Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond (columnist at the Rumpus) talking about life, love, loss – and just general life advice that makes anyone feel a little bit more human when they tune in. However you are feeling, or whatever stage in your life you’re at, the podcast succeeds in adding a bit of perspective and depth to every day life. I obviously love this sort of shit. Being the sort of person that always wants to go a little bit deeper – surface level stuff bores me. Shitty small talk and brushing over things isn’t my vibe. (I blogged about how I want to ban small talk here).

It’s quite heavy stuff, from people who are not OK – be it relationships, depression, loss, bereavement, family problems. The letters are filled with desperation and Cheryl answers them honestly, giving away a piece of her own heartache along the way. She doesn’t pat them on the back and tell them they’ll be fine, she rolls up her sleeves and does her best to suggest a way forward in their lives.

In other Cheryl Strayed news (I’m having a themed week) I saw WILD this week. Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of the same name made into a blockbuster starring Reese Witherspoon. It was dark, funny, though-provoking, inspiring. Made me think – why do people hardly ever go a little bit beneath the surface? It is because it’s embarrassing to ask about bigger, more vulnerable things? It’s uncool to mention death, or fear? The memoir/film literally screams: how do you get over the shit things in life? How do you re-build yourself? What is this (life) all about? 

Talking about advice-giving and problem sharing, this brings me onto why I support and admire my two friends Laura (Superlatively Rude) and Megs (Wonderful U) because they do that. They talk about life’s big questions. They aren’t afraid to talk about stuff that could potentially leave them feeling vulnerable. Their videos (the joint venture is called Superlatively Wonderful, see what they did there) has the exact opposite effect of feeling vulnerable, it’s a strengthening exericse. It’s old school agony aunt vibes but set in a modern context through a modern platform. A YouTube series answering life’s big questions? Yes please.

Here are a round-up of some of their videos. I love watching them, and not just because their my mates.

You Don’t Have To Be Broken To Be Interesting

Twenty Things We’ve Learned In Our Twenties

What To Do When You Feel Lost

How Not To Settle

Keep up the good work gals. I bloody love ya.

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