Sure, Joceline is the med student/smartypants among us, but she’s not the only one with skills! I might not be able to correctly diagnose skin diseases, cut people open, or casually deal with above average amounts of blood, but I know a thing or two about the comforts of fiction, the sometimes necessary escapism into other worlds, and the inexplicable bliss that can be extracted from a story that seems to perfectly speak to the mood or situation you find yourself inhabiting against your will.
Below I’ve compiled a list of quarterlife crisis antedotes-via-fiction (both on the page and on the screen) which I have found to be particularly helpful during those very specific, hard-to-describe adultish times of woe.
MOOD #1: The “Everyone in the world is a phony. Facebook is a lie. Why must I participate in this charade? I want to build a cabin in the woods away from your snap chatting. LEAVE ME ALONE.” mood
FICTION PERSCRIPTION: If you are a male, read Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. If you’re a female like me, read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Sure, The Bell Jar is a semi autobiographical novel about a young twenty-something girl with extreme depression, but hey – the more you read it, the more your life starts looking like an animated Disney movie in comparison. Also, it had some darkly funny parts to it that are reminisent of a better, more honest version of Girls.
MOOD #2: The “I just got in a car accident or similar adult-like emergency and, wait, now I have to be an adult and DEAL WITH THIS like an adult?” mood
FICTION PERSCRPTION: After you’ve gotten off the phone with your insurance claims agent (aka, your newest BFF), pop in an episode of Gilmore Girls – more specifically the one where Rory gets hit by a deer. The irony will bring you back to earth.
MOOD #3: The “All my friends are getting married and I’m eating a grilled cheese sandwich – BLERG!” mood
FICTION PERSCRIPTION: Arrested Development, season 4 (as explained in this previous post)
MOOD #4: The “Men don’t offer their seats to pregnant women on the metro! No one says thank you! People shouldn’t talk so LOUDLY in public places. WHY ARE YOU WEARING FLIP FLOPS TO WORK?! The human race is doomed” mood
FICTION PERSCRIPTION: When you find yourself mad at the world, read A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. The antics of Ignatius J. Reilly will make you laugh and soothe your bitter soul. I sometimes wish I could get away with being as ridiculous as him.
MOOD #5: The “It’s raining outside and my mind is wandering through a series of bittersweet memories…Where’s my snuggie?” mood
FICTION PERSCRIPTION: Easily fixed. Watch Sabrina (the one with Audrey Hepburn, duh). See this post for a further explanation.
MOOD #6: The “It sucks to be a woman.” feeling (you know, if this is even applicable to you…)
FICTION PERSCRIPTION: Skim your worn down Judy Blume novels from yesteryear and you will remember how it used to suck more. Perspective, right?
MOOD #7: The “This deadline is stressing me out. WAAAA I’LL NEVER GET EVERYTHING DONE ON TIME and when will my heart stop beating at this CRAZY fast tempo?!” mood
FICTION PERSCRIPTION: When you’ve jumped through the last hurdle of your time sensitive to-do list, watch The Hangover. I know this sounds strange, but trust me - it will make you feel better. Your deadline might’ve sucked, but at least you didn’t get roofied and have to retrace your steps while meeting it, right? Plus, it will obviously make you laugh.
MOOD #8: The “I’m an IDIOT most of the time and I have NO IDEA if I’m doing this life thing right. I wonder if anyone else noticed what a HOT MESS I am?” mood
FICTION PERSCRIPTION: Read anything by Charles Bukowski. Seriously, in comparison, you will feel like the most together person on the planet and you will realize that there are a miriad of other ways you can be acting like an idiot – ways you have yet to explore (and probably never will). Relax and pat yourself on the back.
MOOD #9: The “I’m just plain cynical right now. All I want to do is mock something while simeltaneously cheering up in the process” mood
FICTION PERSCRIPTION: Grab your best friend and some snacks, then watch Warm Bodies together. Emily and I did this on Tuesday night and I swear it worked like a charm. I honestly can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a movie that much. I wonder what that says about me/us…
MOOD #10: The “Boys are dumb. Let’s throw rocks at them.” mood
FICTION PERSCRIPTION: Anything Jane Austen will meet your needs.
MOOD #11: The “I feel professionally/intellectually insecure and, hey, is this the right direction for my life?” mood
FICTION PERSCRIPTION: This varies from person to person. In my case, as a policy-oriented professional and soon-to-be graduate student, I heal myself with The West Wing (the opening credits alone make my heart soar with a sense of purpose…). If you’re an athlete, you should probably watch Rudy. If you’re a teacher, make it Dead Poets Society or Mr. Hollad’s Opus. If you’re a law student/young attorney, make it To Kill a Mockingbird. You get the general idea…
There you go – a nerdy former English Major’s holistic approach to mental healthcare.