The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

According to Amanda…Self-Help Material Found Online Allows for More Privacy, Less Embarrassment

2 min read

I have a secret love of self-help materials.  My love is mostly fueled by the privacy modern technology has allowed.  It’s highly unlikely you’ll find me browsing the self-help section at Barnes & Noble.  Why would I?  The Internet allows me to surf “Dear Prudence” articles to my heart’s content without anyone except my browser history knowing that I have.

The convenience of technology and the fact that I’ve never been one for self-help books led me to the Internet.  However, I did read one actual self-help book.  It was on the recommendation of a friend who, on all other accounts, has impeccable taste in books.

When she first suggested I read it, I was skeptical.  Though I spend hours poring over online self-help articles and advice columns, obtaining and reading an actual book seemed to cross some sort of sanity line.  When the source is floating around online, I can write it off as a mindless hobby.  When it’s hardback and printed, I’m officially one of “those” people.

What sold me on reading the book was that she insisted it had changed her life.  I had to at least give it a shot.  I went to retrieve “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: And it’s All Small Stuff.”  I know it was probably all in my head, but I swear the student who checked out the book for me gave me a raised-eyebrow, you’re-one-of-those-people kind of looks.

At first, I was put off by the title presuming that everything in my life was small stuff.  I did, however, get a kick out of the chapter that instructed me to imagine people who frustrate me as babies when speaking to them.  Ultimately, though, Dr. Garlson lost me in the chapter where he asked me to imagine myself at my own funeral.  I don’t care how enlightening the construction of your own eulogy might be—the idea of envisioning myself in a casket was disturbing.

After that, I returned to my tried-and-true self-help favorites: online articles and self-help columns.  I’ve read short tidbits on finding happiness in the senior years of life, how to keep your friends once married, and the best ways to teach your teenagers financial lessons.  Notably, I am not a senior citizen or married or a mother.  Clearly, I am not the demographic these articles are shooting for.

But I reason that I’m preparing myself for the future.  Someday, I’ll have graying hair.  If I ever lose the nickname my little brother gave me, “Buffy the Boyfriend Slayer,” perhaps the other two will happen, too.  Once I do reach those milestones, I’ll have a reservoir of self-help knowledge to draw from.

By and large, what I read isn’t relatable to my present life. But just in case my roommate ever decides to store her dirty clothes in the refrigerator, I’m prepared.