Life lessons from Lenny Letter



A few weeks ago I read a fake horoscope that was so accurate I almost cried. Yes, you read right – it was fake. It was featured in Lenny Letter, Lena Dunham’s new project and the best thing that’s happened to my inbox ever. If you haven’t signed up for this newsletter yet, you’re seriously missing out.

In Lenny No. 2, The Menstrual MacGyver (you’ll know whether you’re in the Lenny target market from that title alone), there was a witty section called ‘Lennyscopes’ in which Melissa Broder put a clever spin on the humble horoscope.

I love a good horoscope – true or false, they always make for great reading. They’re in the same boat as watching trashy movies or reading comments on The Guardian; you know it’s wasting valuable brain power but you can’t look away.

Fond as I am of horoscopes, I almost didn’t want to read Lenny’s take on them – as if I needed yet more intelligent people telling me they were stupid.

Instead, I was floored by what I found. The Aquarius description was so accurate I forwarded it to my mum with lots of exclamation marks. In true Lenny style, the author had managed to use something as trivial as a horoscope to deliver a kick-ass girl power message: ‘ditch the bullshit’.

Here’s what mine (Aquarius) said:

‘There is flow, and then there are things we do to disrupt the flow. Why do we disrupt the flow? Because flow is scary. It’s hard to have faith, in 2015, that what comes naturally is valid, important, good. This month, observe the ways you disrupt your own flow. Do you weigh yourself lots? Impose structures of where you ‘should’ be career-wise or in relationships? Overanalyze good things? Do you destroy them with your mind?’

Um, yes. Guilty as charged! You see what Lenny did there? It doesn’t matter what star sign you are, they used Lennyscopes as an opportunity to gently acknowledge some of the self-destructive behaviour women can be prone to, in a way that makes you sit up, pay attention and say ‘f**k that – I’m going to be better’.

Do you stand in your own way?

Essentially, what my Lennyscope made me realise is that I am my own biggest obstacle. I regularly disrupt my own natural flow and question good things to the point of no return. That last sentence hit me right in the ribs:

‘Do you destroy things with your mind?’

Maybe it’s being in my early 20s; maybe it’s the fact we’re surrounded by so much negative news every day; maybe it’s just because I am a worry wart who needs to learn to chill out – whatever the reason, I am definitely one to over-analyse a good thing.

I enjoy thinking outside the box and challenging the status quo, but that doesn’t mean I need to put every single element of my life under the microscope. Sometimes things just are and that’s okay.

Are you a self-justification junkie?

When was the last time you did something you loved without justifying it to yourself?

I’m going to stay in bed all day and read because I worked really hard this week.

I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine tonight because I’ve had a long day.

I’m going to eat half this block of chocolate because I ate all my vegetables.

How about we get rid of the because? And see what happens then. Why do we feel the need to justify the things we enjoy? As if we’re constantly fighting a battle with ourselves? As if it would somehow be wrong to indulge in life’s small pleasures without working for them first?

Let’s be honest: you’re going to have days when you stay in bed. You’re going to drink the wine. And you’re going to eat the chocolate. Save yourself the energy of self-justification and let it flow. Have a little faith that the world won’t stop spinning if you loosen the rules a bit.

Are you also a little bit of a control freak?

I know I justify everything because it makes me feel in control. Like I have some deep fear that if I don’t exercise discipline in every area of my life then somehow I will end up drowning in chocolate wrappers, empty wine bottles and unwashed sheets.

This brings me back to the importance of faith – the more I justify my actions to myself, the less I trust I put in my own abilities to make the right choices. I need to give myself more credit.

Let’s ditch the rules and go with the flow

My recent transition into self-employment has seen my self-justification and control freak tendencies reach new heights.

Yesterday I laughed with a friend about how I agonised about whether to work on the couch or at my desk. I said I tried to persevere at my desk, because it felt like a ‘professional space’ and I needed to produce some good work. But after hours of writer’s block, I relented and took my laptop to bed. Of course, that simple change of scenery helped me to relax and I ended up writing a brilliant first draft. I probably could have saved myself five hours of agony if I’d moved to the couch in the first place, but my stubborn, small-minded ideal of what ‘professionalism’ looks like worked against me.

This is just a tiny glimpse of the way my brain works if I don’t swiftly tell myself to get over myself! I get preoccupied with how something should look instead of figuring out what I need to do in the moment to be my best. I need to ditch the bullshit and learn how to go with the flow.

The tricky part is, the flow will be different everyday – I have to relearn what works best for me. After years of disrupting my own flow to fit into a workplace environment, where someone else sets the pace, I have to recalibrate.

Thank you Lenny Letter

If this is the sort of soul searching spin I’m going to go on after reading every Lenny Letter, I can’t wait to see what Lena Dunham & Co have up their sleeves next.

Let’s recap the highlights:

  • Don’t overanalyse a good thing
  • Don’t justify making time for the things you love
  • Be cool and have faith – you’ve got this

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