This might make you want to move…


A wise friend of mine says that it’s okay to visit Self-Pity City, you might even want to stay there for a while – just don’t buy real estate.

When bad things happen or when a difficult situation doesn’t appear that it will ever get better, you might find yourself living in Self-Pity City.  You might like the comfy couch of wallowing in worst case scenarios.  You might enjoy the salty snack food of long rants delivered to an offending party or the tall, frosty goodness of imagined sweet revenge. It’s a lot of fun to take a boat cruise down the River of Denial of Personal Responsibility.

If you are lucky, your friends will hang out with you there.  They will cheer you on while you deliver speeches of self-righteous outrage.  They will tuck you in when you cry yourself to sleep. They will send you cards and cute cat videos.

If you are really, really lucky, they will eventually remind you that Self-Pity City isn’t the only place to live and offer to help you pack your bags and move on.

Look, I’m not saying you can’t decide to live in the shit ditch of unhappiness forever.  Lots of people do.

I took the picture above from the porch of an AirBnb [] in Paso Robles, California. The woman who owned the place told us as we were checking out that she hates this view because there is so much brown.  When I told her I loved the views of oak trees among the vineyards and hills, she scoffed.  She said she is from the East Coast where it is much more green than these brown (not golden) hills of California.  I didn’t filter the picture to create more green.  She looks at this image and sees brown hills.  I think she just might be choosing to wear shit-ditch-vision glasses.

I came across an old acquaintance a few months ago, she was working at a retail store.  The last time I saw her she had big dreams of a new career.  That was 5 years ago.  I asked her how the new career was going.  She said it had turned out she would have had to go back to school and there was no guarantee she would make enough money to make that worth her time so she resigned herself to keeping this crappy job she is ashamed of.  She sighed, looked down, and said quietly, “I hate working here but what choice do I have?”  She had moved in permanently to Self-Pity City and if she had been my friend and not just an acquaintance (and if we had not been in a public place), I would have said a lot of things instead of awkwardly saying my good-byes and rushing out of there without buying what I came for.

I would have told her that she could choose to find the good in the work she was doing (nice co-workers? easy commute? health insurance benefits?) or she could go ahead and put in the work to get more education and move on to a job she enjoyed, even if the work paid just as poorly, at least she would like what she was doing.  I would have told her that the only time when you truly have no choice is when you have given up.  I would have told her that living in the shit ditch is a choice, not a life sentence handed down to you without possibility of parole.

Sometimes our circumstances suck.  We get sick. People we love die. Our kids have troubles we can’t fix.  We go broke.  The dog has to be put down. Our hearts are broken.

Go ahead, check in to that cozy Bed and Breakfast in Self-Pity City.  Be comforted by friends and family.  Have some delightfully unhealthy snacks.

Then take my hand and let’s walk out of this hell hole together.  Self-Pity City is no place to take up permanent residence.  You can crash at my beach house on Annoyingly Positive Island for a while.  It’s nice here.  We have kale.

Please share your thoughts.