The unhappy company of self-help books: As somebody once said there’s a difference between a failure and a fiasco. A failure is simply the non-presence of success. Any fool can accomplish failure. But a fiasco...a fiasco is a disaster of mythic proportions. A fiasco is a folk tale told to others that makes other people feel more alive because it didn’t happen to them.
— Drew Baylor, Elizabethtown
For someone who thrives on being the heroine of her own screenplay — however sappy, mopey, dark or delirious it is — I believe I’m Drew Baylor. I’m the folk tale told to others. I’m a fiasco.
My story didn’t start like that. Years ago, when I was graduating from college, my friends would use words like “shiny” and “happy” to describe me. And then life happened and with it came despair. It wasn’t easy to deal with the diagnosis. I needed something that would make me accept the new me. I needed to upgrade my life’s software. I needed hand-holding and since most of my friends had given up on me “because I was constantly moping for no reason”, I fell for the “read this book and it’ll change your life” trap. I became a self-help addict.
It wasn’t an easy transition because I abhorred pop psychology books. Come on, nobody wants to become the person who gets life gyaan from books, right? But here I was. One day, I glanced at my bookshelf and I saw a row of self-help books. I don’t remember the exact moment when I became the self-help reader but I had. I really took the blurbs seriously. I started believing that if I followed the instructions, my life would improve. I dedicated a few years to scout around and read every new book I could so that I could find happiness. The likes of Byron Katie, Rhonda Byrne, Paulo Coelho, Matthieu Ricard and Brené Brown became my roommates. I thought at least one of them would help me decode the happiness code.
They didn’t. Slowly, I began to understand that the books that were supposed to make me happy actually