How you doing? Really doing, I mean. You alright? Hanging in there? I hope so because it's easy to get dragged down. Our world and social media feeds are just chock-full of bad mojo. Everywhere you look it's doom, gloom and pandemonium. No news, it seems, is good news.
Right now we're under attack from a super virus that's immune to everything except soap and water. We're freaking out. Losing it. Because we can't trust each other to simply wash our damn hands. It's crazy.
We've all got endless bills and, if you're lucky, a crippling mortgage. Our phones are full of those offending, those offended and the perfectly presented lives of those we choose to follow.
Little wonder we're all bummed out. Even if you're not, you most likely are. A 10-month inquiry in 2018 did a deep-dive into New Zealand's mental health and learned that an overwhelming 50 to 80 per cent of New Zealanders will experience "mental distress" during their lives while one in five Kiwis experience "mental illness or significant mental distress".
Bleeding heck. That's a lot of us suffering from garden variety issues like anxiety and depression.
So, how you doing? Really doing, I mean. Probably not as good as you were before you started reading this... sorry about that.
But maybe all you need is some reassurance. Perhaps a little encouragement will give you the boost you need to get through the rest of your day. Maybe, all you need is for someone to say, "hey, you know what? You're doing great!". And that person, friends, is not me. I got my own problems going on. Instead, that person is Tom Papa.
Who, you ask? I'd never heard of him either. But the other night I chanced upon the comedian's new Netflix special and decided to take a gamble because a) I like to live dangerously and b) I liked the positivity of its title.
It's called You're Doing Great! and essentially it's Papa making you feel good about being so crap. Please don't take this personally because as Papa cheerfully explains everyone is feeling crappy or tired or stressed or achy or like they're not doing well enough. This, he assures us, is normal, while repeatedly insisting, "you're doing great!" with an incredibly sincere grin.
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Even if Papa wasn't so funny, which he is, his message would still put a smile on your face. The juxtaposition of being relentlessly positive about our perceived failings is just like those sour gummy lollies that hide their sweetness beneath a sour sting.
"I know it's hard. I feel the pressure too," he admits early on. "Everyone's in your face telling you to do more, lose more weight, be better. They show you the ads from the gym, the Before and After guy. I like the Before guy. Yeah, he looks a little chubby but he also looks like he has a box of donuts and a lot of friends. That After guy's got a weird look in his eye. Looks like he takes his shirt off when he shouldn't."
He makes a valid point. But it's normal, Papa asserts, to not be living your best life, "because that's not normal".
"You know what's normal?" he asks. "How you feel right now. In your funny, little gassy bodies. A little achy, a little tired, light headed, worried about your bills, worried about that thing you found on your ass. That's normal and it's exhausting. And that's normal too! Being tired, which I know you are all the time, is normal."
Have your cake and eat it too, he advises, and stop worrying that you don't have the body of an Olympic athlete because, guess what, "you're not an Olympic athlete".
"This is not because you're weak but because you're a human being," he says. "And you get sad sometimes. And to stop yourself from slitting your own throat you eat a cookie once a while. You're doing fine."
He dives into how social media plays with our heads, relaying how people are getting clinically depressed because they're looking at other peoples lives on social media.
"They start to think their life pales in comparison. Calm down. First of all no one has a great life. No one. They're posting their best moments, with a filter, to make you feel shitty."
Sure, we all know this stuff but it's still somehow reassuring to hear someone say it out loud. You're not alone in wanting to have a nap in the afternoon, or feeling guilty about eating a donut, or feeling bad for not going to the gym. What you are, and I mean this in the best possible way, is normal.
And maybe that's all we need to be told. Keep on keeping on, friends. Because you know what? You're doing great!