As my coworker and I were browsing a bookstore while on a work trip (because we’re
nerds cool like that), she saw this book propped out on a table and told me I just had to read it. But really, it’s been on my list for quite awhile now.
So after my heart-wrenching book about dogs who love their humans, I went to the lighter side with Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things.
Now, I would not say that this book is actually about horrible things, in my opinion. The ‘horrible things’ probably just refers to Jenny Lawson’s list of mental disorders and illnesses.
“But wait!” you might exclaim. “Mental disorders are horrible!”
While no one wishes for a mental illness, this book actually made me think that it’s not so bad after all. Maybe that’s just some acceptance and gratitude trickling over from the Dalai Lama, but still. You do get the feeling that Jenny Lawson has triumphed because of her mental disorders, not in spite of them. She has taken her lot in life, struggled through (no one is arguing that she struggled), and has become who she is because of it.
We can all take what we are given in this life and use it to our benefit.
We might look at Jenny and wish we had her wit, her humor, her writing ability or her Twitter influence. But in the end, we all have only what we were given. We can only stand in our own truth and be who we are. Jenny owns who she is and that’s what makes her amazing.
She is funny and insightful. She thinks of things you’d never have otherwise though of – like odd thoughts about her cats, or taxidermied animals, or any number of the random things that come out of her mouth (or through her pen).
She has a perspective that is all her own.
In this book, Jenny Lawson embraces her mental illness, sheds light on it, and makes it normal to talk about and to confront. She is able to provide a platform and space for others to do the same.
She is doing what everyone wishes they could do about their own secrets. We all have struggles. Some are harder than others. Some are more visible than others. But all have them. We keep quiet, afraid to draw too much attention, afraid it will change how others talk to us or treat us. We all pretend to be normal. But no one is normal and few are brave enough to come out and confront their struggles and challenges.
So we envy her. Not because she is hilarious in a way we’ll never be, but because she has the courage and humility to say, “this is me, this is who I am, and I know you all can relate.”
But she is relatable in the oddest way. I have literally nothing in common with her, and yet I feel like we have this bond. I feel like we are pushing against the same stereotypes, working against the same fears. I feel like she is me, if only I could step up and step out.
She is all of us. She is who we want to be. Because she is brave and true to herself.
This book is seemingly random. Arguments with her husband, Twitter conversations, travel recaps from a trip to Australia, taxidermied animals (I can’t get over that), stories of her pets and her child…
I guess it doesn’t matter how random it is, because that is her life and that’s how her brain works. I’ll never know, because I don’t have a mental illness.
But in the end, I still feel like I got to know her, which is the whole point, right?
Overall, this book was funny, honest, open and insightful. It was a look into mental illness that I have never seen before. And yet, it was about more than mental illness. It was about staying true to yourself and embracing who you are, flaws and all.
That’s not so horrible, is it?